Skip to main content

Full text of "The Right Way to Do Wrong: An Exposé of Successful Criminals"

See other formats

This is a digital copy of a book that was preserved for generations on library shelves before it was carefully scanned by Google as part of a project 
to make the world's books discoverable online. 

It has survived long enough for the copyright to expire and the book to enter the public domain. A public domain book is one that was never subject 
to copyright or whose legal copyright term has expired. Whether a book is in the public domain may vary country to country. Public domain books 
are our gateways to the past, representing a wealth of history, culture and knowledge that's often difficult to discover. 

Marks, notations and other marginalia present in the original volume will appear in this file - a reminder of this book's long journey from the 
publisher to a library and finally to you. 

Usage guidelines 

Google is proud to partner with libraries to digitize public domain materials and make them widely accessible. Public domain books belong to the 
public and we are merely their custodians. Nevertheless, this work is expensive, so in order to keep providing this resource, we have taken steps to 
prevent abuse by commercial parties, including placing technical restrictions on automated querying. 

We also ask that you: 

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Google Book Search for use by individuals, and we request that you use these files for 
personal, non-commercial purposes. 

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort to Google's system: If you are conducting research on machine 
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the 
use of public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help. 

+ Maintain attribution The Google "watermark" you see on each file is essential for informing people about this project and helping them find 
additional materials through Google Book Search. Please do not remove it. 

+ Keep it legal Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just 
because we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States, that the work is also in the public domain for users in other 
countries. Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of 
any specific book is allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Google Book Search means it can be used in any manner 
anywhere in the world. Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe. 

About Google Book Search 

Google's mission is to organize the world's information and to make it universally accessible and useful. Google Book Search helps readers 
discover the world's books while helping authors and publishers reach new audiences. You can search through the full text of this book on the web 

at |http : //books . google . com/ 

Sffti. a7s7'V 

V 5 






Published by 




' -^cc ^9:l /' y 






Copyright, 1906, by Harry Houdini 

Illustrated by Henry Grossman Grover 
Printed by The Barta Press, Boston 



rworo •* *. rLtMiMtt, cnicaoo 


n ■ I i] I if 


O would the deed were good I 
For now the Devi]^ that told me I did weHi 
Says tha^t thia deed ta chronicled in li^W 1 

HERE is an under world — a world of cheat 
and crime — a world whose highest good is 
successful evasion of the laws of the land. 

You who live your life in placid respecta- 
bility know but little of the real life of the 
denizens of this world. The daily records of 
the police courts, the startling disclosures of fraud 
and swindle in newspaper stories are about all the 
public know of this world of crime. Of the real thoughts 
and feelings of the criminal, of the terrible fascination which 
binds him to his nefarious career, of the thousands — yea, 
tens of thousands — of undiscovered crimes and unpunished 
criminals, you know but little. 

The object of this book is twofold: First, to safeguard 
the public against the practises of the criminal classes by 
exposing their various tricks and explaining the adroit 
methods by which they seek to defraud. *« Knowledge is 
power " is an old saying. I might paraphrase it in this case 
by saying knowledge is safety. I wish to put the public on 
its guard, so that honest folks may be able to detect and. 
protect themselves from the dishonest, who labor under the 
false impression that it is easier to live dishonestly than to 
thrive by honest means. 

In the second place, I trust this book will afford entertain- 
ing, as well as instructive reading, and that the facts and 
experiences, the exposes and explanations here set forth 

4 Preface 

may serve to interest you» as well as put you in a position 
where you will be less liable to fall a victim. 

The material contained in this book has been collected by 
me personally during many years of my active professional 
life. It has been my good fortune to meet personally and 
converse with the chiefs of police and the most famous de- 
tectives in all the great cities of the world. To these gentle- 
men I am indebted for many amusing and instructive inci- 
dents hitherto unknown to the world. 

The work of collecting and arranging this material and 
writing the different chapters has occupied many a leisure 
hour. My only wish is that **The Right Way to Do 
Wrong *• may amuse and entertain my readers and place the 
unwary on their guard. If my humble efforts in collecting 
and writing these facts shall accomplish this purpose, I shall 
be amply repaid, and feel that my labor has not been in vain. 


Handcuff King and Jail Breaker. 


•Shot One , 
*^ Shot Two . 
*» Shot Three 
*^ Shot Four . 

• Shot Five . 
*^ Shot Six . 
*^ Shot Seven 
•Shot Eight. 
•Shot Nine . 

• Shot Ten . 

• Shot Eleven 
•Shot Twelve 

• Shot Thirteen 

• Shot Fourteen 

• Shot Fifteen . 

• Shot Sixteen , 

• Shot Seventeen 

• Shot Eighteen 

• Shot Nineteen 
•Shot Twenty . 

. Income of a Criminal 

• Professional Burglary 

. . Difficulties of Burglary 

• Burglars* Superstitions 

. Thieves and Their Tricks 

. The Aristocrat of Thievery 

. Pickpockets at Work 

• Beggars and Dead Beats 

• Begging Letter Swindles 
. Tricks of Bunco Men 

. The Game of Wits 

. Fake I Fakel Fake I 

. Bogus Treasures 

• Famous Swindles 

. The Fair Criminal 

. The " Brace " Game 

• Cheating Uncle Sam 

• Humbugs 
. About Myself 

• Conclusion 


, . , J;> >.. 


V * 

^EOPLE of respectability* and inexperience, 

'who have no knowledge of the criminal classes, 
usually imagine that every criminal is a hard- 
ened villain, incapable of even the ordinary 
feelings of family affectionj and that of neces- 
sity the professional crook, thief, or burglar is 
uneducated and ignorant. 
In fact, nothing could be more remote from the truth. Do 
you see that well-dressed, respectable-looking man glancing 
over the editorial page of the Sun ? You would be surprised 
to know that he is a professional burglar and that he has a 
loving wife and a family of children who little know the 
<* business " which takes him away for many days and nights 
at a time \ 

You meet a grave and benevolent-looking gentleman on a 
railway train ; perhaps he shares your seat and interests you 
by his brilliant and intelligent conversation. You little 
suspect that he is at the head of a gang of the most expert 
bank burglars in the country 1 

As a matter of fact, some of the brightest brains and keen- 
est minds belong to professional criminals. They live by 
their wits and must needs keep those wits sharp and active. 
Not that I would have you think that all professional criminals 
go about in the guise of gentlemen. There are all grades of 
culture and lack of culture in the various nefarious callings 
of crime. The sneak thief and the burglar may and often 
does look the **hard citizen" he is; but you will never find 
him lacking in a certain kind of quick wits and a certain kind 

The Right Way to Do Wrong 

of brain power. So highly organ- 
ized is the machinery of the 
law and police protection in our 
modern civilization that one of 
the first requisites for success as 
a professional criminal is brains. 

Dobs It Pay to Commit 
Crime ? 

This is a question I have often 
asked the chiefs of police arid 
great detectives of every country 
in the world. How great are the 
money rewards of evil doing? 
Does a *' good" burglar have an 
income equal to that of a bank 
president? Can a pickpocket 
make more money than the 
fashionable tailor who makes the 
pockets? Is a gambler better 
paid than a governor? Can a 
shoplifter make more money than 
the saleswoman? In fact, does 
it pay to be a criminal, and, if 
so, how great is the reward for evil doing? 

I am aware that it is the general impression, considered 
simply as a matter of profits, that the professional criminal is 
well paid. He gets something for nothing ; therefore you 
would say at a first glance that he must be rolling in wealth. 
Many people who get their ideas of criminals from novels 
and story papers, for instance, imagine a gambler as a man 
who always has a roll of bills in his pocket bi^; enough to 
choke a horse, as they say. No doubt, also, the histories of 
sensational coups as reported in the daily press are chiefly 
responsible for this false impression. But such colossal frauds 
and robberies are rarely the work of professional criminals. 
They are usually perpetrated by men whose previous good 


Income of a Criminal 

character has placed them in positions of trust. Men who 
have led honest lives, when temptation came along and 
on paper they figured out that they could not lose -^-^ why, they 
stole and fell — into the clutches of the law. Disgraced, they 
arc ruined for life, often ruining all their family. It is a 
terrible thing to have the finger of fate point at you with the 
remark, ** His father is serving time for doing so and so," or 
*« Her brother is now in his sixteenth year, and comes out in 
five years." 

Such humble criminals as the area sneak thief, the porch 
and hallway thieves, and the ordinary shoplifter may be 
dismissed with a few words; their gains are miserably 
small, they live in abject poverty, and after detection (for 
sooner or later they are detected) they end their lives in the 
workhouse 1 

** If I could earn $5 a'week honest, I'd gladly give up < drag- 
ging' [shoplifting]," said a thief of this type to a New York 
detective ; «* but I can't stand regular work, never could ; it's 
so much easier to * prig ' things." No avarice, but simple 
laziness keeps these thieves dishonest. 

More lucrative are the 
callings of the counter thief, 
the pickpocket, and the 
<« buzzer" or watch thief. 
Of those the pickpocket 
wins the largest returns. 
A purse hunter who knows 
his work would think he 
had wasted his time if he did 
not make $5 on an evening 
stroll. Race meetings and 
fairs may brin^ him in $100 
to $150 a day, but an aver- 
age day's makings amount 
to only $8 to $12. 

The passing of bad 
money, as everyone knows. 



' v> 


AT THE pistol's MUZZLE 

lo The Right Way to Do Wrong 

who is behind the scenes in criminal life, is a very poorly 
paid •• industry/* while the punishment risked is heavy. In 
England the ** snide pitchers" or ** shovers of the queer," as 
they were called, used to buy the counterfeit coins at so much 
a dozen, and, working in pairs, pass them out in shops. 

Highwaymen, robbers, and hold-up men sometimes make 
big hauls, but their careers are short. Into their brutal hands 
pass many a diamond pin or ring, many a gold chain, worth 
$20 or $25, even at melting-pot prices of some dishonest 
goldsmith. Happily for society, these ruffians are speedily 
brought to book and their ill-gotten gains are dearly earned. 
There is a thieves* proverb which runs, ** A six months' run 
and the hook (thief) is done." The garrote and hold-up 
men have far shorter lease of liberty and frequently fall into 
the clutches of the law within a day or two after release from 

Both burglars and confidence men may make big coups 
occasionally, but their income is precarious. The burglar is 
at the mercy of the ** fence," as the receiver of stolen goods 
is called, and realizes only a small part of the actual value of 
his pelf. I suppose a burglar would be considered very 
successful if he made $3,000 a year actual profit. The 
"fence "has much larger opportunities and his voracity is 
well known. A detective friend was well acquainted with 
one who made as much as $5,000 a year for several years 
and finally shot himself to avoid arrest. Another "fence" 
actually amassed a fortune, but his wealth did not prevent him 
from dying miserably in prison. 

The truth is, that a life of dishonesty may pay at first when 
you are not known to the police, but when an offender once 
falls into the hands of the ever-watchful police he begins to 
be a well-known customer. He now pays dearer and dearer 
every time he is brought up for trial. His brief spells of 
liberty are spent in committing some crime that once again 
brings him back to the prison, so when you figure out the 
sentences he has to serve, why, his honest gains are con- 
temptible compared to such awful penalties. 

Income of a Criminal 1 1 

As this book is not a history of crime or criminals, to 
those wishing to read positive facts of great criminals, and 
all of them have either died in the poorhouse or are yet 
counting the weary days in prison cells, divorced from wife, 
from children, and from all ties that human beings hold so 
dear, I can safely call attention to the book called **Our 
Rival the Rascal 1 " written by my friend Chief Inspector 
of Police, Wm. B. Watts, of Boston, Mass. This book is 
the greatest book on the subject that I have ever seen. I 
happened to have a copy with me in Berlin, when the royal 
police, hearing that I had the book in the country, asked me 
as a favor to allow them to make extracts and photograph 
some of the famous criminals in the book. 

This I allowed them to do and in return they handed me 
several photos of well-known criminals to send to Chief 
Inspector, Wm. B. Watts. In order to put a finish to this 
chapter, it can be said that IT DOES NOT PAY TO LEAD 
A DISHONEST LIFE, and to those who read this book, 
although it will inform them **The Right Way to -Do 
Wrong," all I have to say is one word and that is " DON'T.** 

** Yus, my poor brother had no eddication, and it wur his 

** How was that?" 
** He forged a name on a check, an' the spellin* wur bad." 



HE professional burglar is a man of re- 
sources and daring. He has usually had a 
long training in criminal pursuits. A good, 
burglar is a man who knows how to keep his 
own counsel and is very careful how he tells 
his plans to any one else. 
If the same amount of ability and talent that many a crim- 
inal exercises to become a professional burglar were applied 
to an honest pursuit, he would gain wealth and fame ; but 
once started in the path of crime it is difficult to turn aside. 

The burglar who makes the breaking into houses a pro- 
fession is held by the fascination of the danger and the re- 
wards of his pursuit. The consciousness that he is able to 
accomplish the almost impossible, to plan and bring off coups 
which fill the newspapers with flare headings, is as much a 
matter of pride to him as high attainments in an honorable 
profession are to another man. 

Planning a Bold Break. When a burglar starts out on a 
job he does not do it haphazardly. He carcf\illy sclectfl a 
house in a favorable location, occupied by a family who are 
known to have valuable possessions worth taking away. The 
retired location of the house, the ease of access, every ap- 
proach and every avenue of escape if detected are carefully 
studied. Then he goes about acquainting himself with the 
habits of the people who occupy the house. He soon knows 
when they come. and go, how the doors are fastened, how 
the windows are secured. Perhaps he ingratiates himself by 

Professional Burglary 


^^^ ing 



marked attention to the 
of the kitchen, and so 
^^^^irns the inside workings of the 
ousehold. Usually this is ac-' 
complished by the aid of a con- 
federate or member of the gang 
to which he belongs, and if he can 
induce the cooperation of some 
servant his work is made so much 
the easier. 

At length the night of the bur- 
glary arrives. The date has been 
carefully set. You may be sure 
that there is not a full moon to 
illuminate the grounds, as he has 
consulted the almanac. If there 
IS a watch-dog, the burglar carries 
ample means to quiet him, in the 
shape of a small bottle of. chloro- 
form. Accompanied by his pal (for most of these burglars 
work in pairs) they rapidly effect their entrance in accord- 
ance with their plan. Usually one man is stationed outside, 
to give warning by means of a peculiar whistle or other 
sound in case detection is to be feared. 

How the burglar overcomes all the obstacles of his en- 
trance into the house will be treated later, but to a profes- 
sional cracksman the ordinary locks of doors, the ordinary 
window fastenings and safety arrangements which the house- 
holder attends to so carefully every night offer but little 
or no obstacle. When the time comes for him to enter, he 
enters as quietly and quickly as though he were the mas- 
ter himself — in fact, very much more quietly. Once inside, 
his glimmering electric dark lantern, which can be hooded 
in an instant, gives him sufficient light to move with noiseless 
rubber-soled shoes to the different apartments. The abso- 
lute silence in which a professional cracksman can go 
through a house, avoiding creaking doors, and escaping 

14 The Right Way to Do Wrong 

every loose board which may betray his presence is aston 
ing. Many a householder has awakened in the morning 
find his house rifled who would deem it impossible for ai 
one to enter his house, much less his room, without immea. 
ately arousing him. 

To show how carefully a burglar plans for the ** crack- 
ing** of some specially desirable ** crib," one ex-convict de- 
clares that he has often expended large sums of money in 
making the preliminary arrangements for some great coup. 
If a burglar should happen to be caught in the house-break- 
ing act, it is fairly important that he should not be recog- 
nized afterwards; so most professional burglars are very 
careful to provide themselves with a disguise when out on 
their *• work." One reformed criminal told Inspector Byrnes 
that he had several times been seen by people while entering 
houses, but they had never once been able to recognize him 
afterwards. His simple plan he described as follows: **I 
always wore a specially made wig, with false side-whiskers 
and moustache of the best quality. My wardrobe was ex- 
tensive, and contained reversible coats and reversible trou- 
sers, after the style used by quick-change artists on the stage. 
With the aid of these, I have been able to make a complete 
change of appearance in less than two minutes." It is easy 
to see how rogues take more pains to perpetrate robberies 
than honest men do to get a living. 

The Burglar Who Walked Backward. A London 
burglar, who served a long sentence, told the chaplain of the 
prison the following amusing story of one of his experi- 
ences: ** One of the toughest pieces of work I undertook 
was a big jewelry shop in the Seven Sisters Road, one Jan- 
uary night. It was a *put up*]ob> — that is, the business 
came to me through one of the brokers who supply burglars 
with places for likely hauls, and receive in return a large 
commission. The jewelry store in this case was protected 
by iron shutters, not easy to open from the street, but valu- 
able goods were supposed to be left over night in the window. 

" I approached the crib down a narrow entry to the rear, 

Professional Burglary ' ^S * 

and along this I walked backward, for the ground wa^ 
covered with snow, and any tracks going forward would 
attract the next policeman who should pass/ I continued on 
this crab-like progress until under the shutter of the rear 
window. This I got through without difficulty, but was con- 
fronted by a door leading into the passage, which was locked. 
On attempting to force it with a jimmy, the door fell together 
with its case with a tremendous crash. I need not say I 
made myself scarce in a jiffy, and hid behind a shed in the 
yard. Strange to say, nothing happened. No one seemed 
to have heard the terrible racket. I re-entered, and, climb- 
ing to the top of the stairs, found a heavy trap-door fastened 
with a massive bolt. This gave way after a special treat- 
ment, and in the big sitting-room, by the glimmer of my 
tiny dark lantern, I found a few watches. The door leading 
into the shop was fastened with a mortise lock, and it was 
necessary to cut the box out. Much to my disgust, I found 
the show-window absolutely empty. In ransacking the 
place, I came across a small iron safe which, with a vast deal 
of trouble, I dragged into the basement, where I set to work 
with my safe-opening tools, feeling sure I should find my 
plunder, but again I was disappointed, for the safe was 
empty." (Almost all English safes are key-locked, not 
combination as in America.) 

** Where was the stuff? Clearly the jeweler had some 
hiding-place. I resolved not to get *cold feet' on this job, 
so went back to make a systematic search. Outside the old 
. couple's bedroom, I listened carefully. All was quiet. I 
entered as silently as a shadow, and found the old jeweler 
and his wife sleeping soundly. A revolver was on the chair 
by his bedside. I have always considered the practise of 
keeping revolvers about the house most dangerous, especially 
to casual night visitors, so I pocketed this one, gathered up 
the loose money, two gold watches, and, turning, found ar- 
ranged along the wall, the rods of jewelry and watches from 
the shop window. I selected as many as my pockets would 
hold,' and cautiously made my way downstairs again. .Upon 





The Right Way to Do Wrong 


leaving the house, I walked backward again through the 
snoWy and almost collided with the milkman just starting on 
his rounds. 

** * You have a very remarkable way of walking,* he said. 

***Oh,' I replied, *it is an agreeable change after the 
monotony of always walking forward ; but in the daytime I 
cannot practise it, owing to the remarks of foolish people 
who will not mind their own business.* 

** He seemed to enter into the joke, but no sooner had we 
reached the road, than he shouted, • Police 1 ' and • Stop 
thief 1 ' for all he was worth. 

** I had a good start, however, and two hours later a Hox- 
ton * fence * received a considerable addition to his store of 
valuables concealed under the floor 
of his bedroom." 

The question has often been asked 
how burglars get away with their 
booty, especially when it makes, as 
it often does, a bulky bundle. The 
police are apt to be suspicious of 
people who carry bundles in the 
small hours of the night, and ask 
inconvenient questions. If any one 
doubts this, let him try the experi- 
ment of going out between two and 
three in the morning, carrying a 
bag heavily loaded with bricks. 
He will not proceed many yards 
without being pounced upon by a 
" cop." A story in point is told by 
an ex-convict to a well-known de- 
tective. "I had a pal with me, and 
we broke into the country palace 
of one of the wealthiest dukes in 
England. The ^^^iW 

silver-plate we .^ -«k£^*^ 

got nllea two ^.^^ burglar who walked backward 

.Ill liiii n'rirn--]-^ 



Professional Burglary 


bags. We had just dragged the sacks into the thicket near 
the house when the alarm was raised. Think of the tight place 
we were in, — two o'clock in the morning, and a policeman 
every thirty yards all around the grounds, every road guarded 
and every path. Safe enough inside the ring we were, but 
when daylight came, what would happen? Still the next day 
dawned, and no trace was found either of the plunder, or of 
us, and by evening of that same day, it was all melted and 
sold to the * fence * in the city. The police were utterly baffled 
as to how the perpetrators of the robbery got away with two 
sacks full of plate. No one had passed the cordon of police 
except a couple of countrymen from the home farm, who 
were driving a cart to market, containing a slaughtered sheep. 
Now I might tell the , police something that would interest 
them. If they had turned that sheep over, they would have 
found, instead of the usual bodily organs, that the carcass con- 
tained a valuable collection of silver, and if they had looked 
under the straw, they might have found the rest of the 
duke's missing prop- 


The Second' Story 
Man. The profes- 
sionjal burglar of 
standing in his pro- 
fession looks down 
somewhat with con- 
descension upon the 
second-story burglar, 
whose risks are not 
nearly so great, and 
whose rewards, of 
course, are propor- 
tionately smaller. 
The second-story 
man avoids breaking 
and entering a house. 
His fort is obtaining 


i8 The Right Way to Do Wrong 

an entrance by means of convenient porches, over-hanging 
boughs of trees, water-conductors, and lightning-rods, up 
which he climbs with the greatest ease, and enters through 
an unguarded window in that part of the house where he has 
planned to make his robbery. 

Many successful second-story men work only in the day- 
time, and are prepared with all sorts of plausible excuses to 
explain their presence if detected in a house. A burglar en- 
gaged in going through the premises after jewels known to 
be in the house may, in a second's time, assume all the ap- 
pearance and actions of the honest workman come to repair 
the plumbing, and by his clever effrontry, escape even after 
he is detected. Usually, however, the second-story man so 
plans and times his work as to enter the house when most of 
the family are absent, and thus avoid the risk of detection. 

Ordinary Criminal 

The ordinary criminars hand has a peculiarly rough 
shape, the thumb being very plump and short, while the 
fingers are uneven and heavy. The small finger is turned 
inward, and bluntness is the hand's chief characteristic. 



VERY man who lives by his wits and defies 
the law of the land must confront difficulties 
unknown to the ordinary citizen. In the first 
^ place, the house must be entered, locks must be 
forced and picked, burglar-alarms must be cir- 
cumvented, and every effort made to escape 
detection. Most people who carry a loaded re- 
volver, or have one in their bed-chamber, think that they are 
protected. As a matter of fact, a burglar finds the least of 
his danger at the muzzle of a pistol. In the hands of the 
excited and frightened citizen who awakes in the middle 
of the night to find his house being robbed, a revolver 
is not especially dangerous. Of course, the burglar is 
likely to get a bullet, but the citizen seems quite as 
apt to shoot himself or some member of his family as he 
is a burglar. 

Nor do ordinary burglar-alarms present any great diffi- 
culty to the expert cracksman. If he knows his busi- 
ness, he has found out beforehand all about these pretty 
little toys, where they are located, how they are handled, 
etc. His first care, of course, is to cut the wires or 
by other means known to him make the burglar-alarm 
harmless and noiseless. Once silent, he may proceed to 
pick all the locks in the house, and clad in the darkness, 
and the garment of silence which every burglar knows 
how to assume, he soon gets away with his ill-gotten 

20 The Right Way to Do Wrong 

A pet dog may make an able-bodied burglar more trouble 
on a midnight expedition than half a dozen pistols or shot- 
guns in the house. These little animals are certainly light 
sleepers and their bark, while harmless, is very apt to arose 
every inmate in the place. If the burglar is expert, he has 
probably cultivated the acquaintance of the dog in advance 
when he paid court to the kitchen girl at the back door, and 
a little bottle of chloroform, judiciously placed, puts the dog 
to sleep very quietly.' 

The window-bars which are supposed to be such a protec- 
tion to basement windows also call for remark. They are 
usually set from four to six inches apart, and are then of 
very little use, for a miniature screw-jack is made for the 
profession which will force these bars sufficiently wide apart 
to allow a thin man to enter. 

When going away for the holidays, it is a. great mistake to 
shut up the house. This is simply to make public announce- 
ment that the place is unoccupied and may be entered with 
safety. The wiser plan is to make it look as much occupied 
as possible and to give notice to the police that you are going 
away. The next-door neighbors — if you know them to be 
-»tirnTIWg,^^ above suspicion — should also 

'lUB^^S-^fy^"^ ^^ '■" '^ ''^ be warned. 

®^-Vds^?^^""^" ^ '^^^ question is often asked, 

i4v4,T^V^^ "^ ^iy-,iiS where is the safest place to 

%''' '- T^^''^'Sifl keep one's valuables? My 

tWC^i I Tlfcifill^tSl^ advice is to keep them at your 

fjg;iv:^^|■ ^^-, j ^ ■P lfl, banker's; but if it' is really 

necessary to have them in the 
house, then the best place is 
the least likely one. 

One communicative burglar 
gave us two pathetic instances 
of wasted labor and disap- 
pointment that had befallen 
him. One night he went 
OPENING A WINDOW through a saddler's premises 

Difficulties of Burglarly 21 

with extraordinary care, but without result, owing to the fact 
— which subsequently leaked out — that the cash was kept 
in an old saddle I 

The other case was that of a wealthy merchant's house, 
which was visited in pursuit of cash and securities. None 
could be found, though the house was thoroughly ransacked. 
It was afterwards found that they were concealed in a 
dummy book placed among the volumes in one of the library 

It is not altogether the wisest plan to keep one's valuables 
in the bedroom, for the simple reason that a determined 
burglar, who has learnt their whereabouts, will not hesitate 
to visit the bedroom, in which case it is very possible that 
the occupant will not wake up next morning. 

I shall conclude this chapter with some account of burglar- 
proof appliances, as described by Mr. Herbert Howard, a 
writer in the London magazines, as follows : 

Burglars Laugh at Locks. The holiday season is the 
harvest of the enterprising burglar and the dark days of the 
late autumn and winter provide a happy hunting-ground for 
the professional housebreaker. 

The need, then, for securely guarding the house against 
uninvited visitors is one that appeals forcibly to every one 
who values his own goods and chattels, and is willing to 
take a little trouble to protect them. The hints given in the 
present article are the result of a long experience of a very 
practical character. 

If any man knows better than another the relative value of 
the various modes of protecting a house, it is the professional 
burglar 1 He smiles at the futility of many a massive lock 
and bolt, while, on the other hand, he grinds his teeth with 
rage as he thinks of certain simple contrivances that have 
defeated his nefarious designs. 

The weakest point about a house is usually a window, 
and for that reason it is one of the most convenient modes of 
entry for the burglar. The ordinary window-catch is the 
most foolish contrivance possible, and must have been 

22 The Right Way to Do Wrong 

invented by somebody who wanted to break in with as little 
trouble as possible. You have merely to insert a thin putty 
knife between the sashes and the catch can be pushed back 
without much difficulty. An attempt is sometimes made to 
prevent this by the insertion of a screw or other contrivance 
behind the catch, so that it will not slide back. In this case 
the judicious use of a jimmy, or crowbar, under the bottom 
sash will simply force out the screws — always very slight 
affairs — by which the catch is fastened to the window, and 
thus the difficulty is overcome without any noise or trouble. 

The only really secure mode of fastening a window is by 
means of strong thumb-screws passing through both sash 
frames on either, side. These screws should work through 
metal plates let into the sashes. These screws, if properly 
placed, will resist the application of the crowbar, and, as they 
are quite inaccessible from the outside of the window, they 
can only be tampered with by removing the panes of glass. 

The door next calls for attention. Usually it is fastened 
during the day by a light latch, which yields at once to a 
very mild amount of pressure with a jimmy. For purposes 
of protection this latch is utterly worthless. The large old- 
fashioned lock, especially if mortised into the door, is much 
better. Certainly it can be forced, but only with great diffi- 
culty, and it is apt to make a noise like the report of a pistol 
when it gives way. The best plan, from the burglar's point 
of view, is to attack the door-post and try to force out the 
socket into which the bolt of the lock shoots. 

Locks used frequently to be picked, and skeleton keys 
were much in vogue in by-gone days. Now, however, 
locks have been so greatly improved that they are seldom 
picked, unless cheap locks are used. 

Ordinary door-bolts present no difficulty to the burglar who 
has his tools with him. They are quickly forced out, screws 
and all, or they are silently cut through with a saw of 
diamond steel. 

Chains are the best of all fastenings for doors. They are 
difficult to cut or force, and they are apt to rattle and make 

Difficulties of Burglary 


a noise, which is the thing of all others that a 
burglar dreads most. The presence of the loose 
chain is not usually discovered until the locks 
and bolts have been forced, and the first indica- 
tion of it is generally an audible one. The 
business of cutting a chain is a troublesome and 
risky one, owing to the difficulty of keeping it 
still. There is a special tool for the purpose, 
but it is not much used. 

A glass-panelled. door, especially if it has no shutters, is a 
thing of delight to the intruder, who can only too easily 
remove the glass and so get access to the locks and bolts. 
A letter slot without a box is also a helpful contrivance, as it 
enables him to insert a strong wire loop with which to pull 
back the latch. 

The best way to secure the house door is to provide it with 
a chain at the extreme top and bottom, in addition to one or 
two thumb-screws passing through the door into the frame. 
This will effectually defy the best efforts of the burglar, 
unless he is prepared to cut out the framework of the door — 
a long and risky job. 

The ordinary window shutters are quite useless, both, on* 
account of their weak construction and of the primitive 
simplicity of the usual fastening, which can be undone with- 
out any trouble. Iron shutters are, however, a good pro- 
tection, but only when fastened by screws in the way we 
have described. 

Inner doors, especially of* rooms that contain valuables, 
should always be locked at night. But the key must be 
taken away I Many people have the idea that by leaving 
the key in the lock — of course on the inside of the door — 
they are making it impossible for the lock to be picked from 
the outside. As a matter of fact they are simply 
putting the key into the burglar's hands. 

Examine the average door at the hotels and 
you will find that when the key is in the lock, 
the end of the barrel slightly projects from the 

24 The Right way to Do Wrong 

keyhole on the other side of the door. Now the burglar 
has in his tool-bag a neat little instrument, resembling in 
shape a very small piano key, with which he is able to grip 
the projecting end of the barrel, and so turn the key around 
and unlock the door I 

The best of all fastenings for the bedroom or other inner 
door is a simple wedge of wood pushed under the bottom of 
the door. If this is correctly shaped and properly placed, 
it is absolutely impossible to open the door from the outside 
without cutting a piece out of the panel, and no burglar will 
risk this with a person sleeping near at hand. 

It is, however, sometimes practicable to pass a knife or 
other article under the door, and so push the wedge back. 
To prevent this it is only necessary to place some obstacle in 
the way. A strong screw passed into the floor will serve, 
especially if it passes through a hole in the wedge. 

Burglara have no hesitation in poisoning small dogs when 
they are in the way of their getting out an especially 
valuable haul. Sometimes this is done by feeding poison 
meat through the letter slot, while dogs kept in kennels out- 
side are practically useless for protection, as they may be 
easily disposed of. If your watch-dog suddenly dies under 
suspicious circumstances, look out for a burglary within the 
next few nights. 

Several cases have been' known where policemen have 
taken- up the profession of burglary and escaped detection 
for many years. They yielded to the temptation for gain and 
fell. I would say, however, on behalf of the police, that 
cases are known where crooks have gained positions on the 
police force in order to forward nefarious and nocturnal work 
of burglary. 

VisrroR (in jail) : Do you never hear the still, small 
voice of conscience? 

Convict : No ; I'm hard of hearing. 


•• "'?««.V 


^^^^'^ ' ~ 

OME people imagine that a burglar is forever 
on the still hunt for plunder; that the breaking 
into houses forms a nightly part of his pro- 
gram, and that he would be a lonesome in- 
dividual unless he had a dark lantern in one 
hand and a jimmy in the other. The truth of the 
matter is that professional burglars rarely make 
more than eight or ten good hauls in the course of a season, 
and that to be out on more than one job inside of a week or 
ten days would be considered rather dangerous. Of course, 
there are cases where gangs of burglars are working certain 
sections of the city where a number of startling robberies are 
committed one after another, but your careful and successful 
cracksman limits his work and increases his safety. 

The burglar, no doubt, may be a quiet citizen, a house- 
holder himself, and one known as a respectable man to his 
neighbors, and when occasionally he disappears for a week 
or a fortnight, it is attributed to business in a distant city. 
His ** business" brings him in another rich haul, and when 
that is disposed of he is on ** Easy " street again until incli- 
nation or necessity compels him to go forth in quest of other 

Sailors are superstitious, but burglars share that 
honor with them, for there is no class of individ- 
uals who look more carefully to signs of good | 

and evil omen than does your professional ** crib 
cracker." An ex-convict whom I once befriended^ 
in Omaha, and from other sources, I learned the 





26 The Right Way to Do Wrong 

following most common superstitions of thieves and burglars. 
A black cat is a certain forerunner of disaster to the burglar, 
and householders who suddenly find their black cats poisoned 
may take it as a warning that the robbery of their domain 
has been decided upon, for the criminals take care to destroy 
their dumb enemies before paying a midnight call. Dogs, 
on the contrary, they fear but little, however savage they 
may be, because they take care to carry in their pockets 
pieces of ivory, a certain cure for dog-bites. 

The cries of an infant warn the marauder that misfortune 
awaits him in the neighborhood. He will not stay in a house 
if he finds a clock stopped, a broken mirror, or an unframed 
oil painting ; these are infallible omens of disaster. 

One of the chief terrors of the burglar is a newly-painted 
house. Several years ago in a northern town, some disciples 
of the jimmy broke into a large domicile, but removed nothing, 
though they favored the next house with a visit the same 
evening and stole everything of value. They were captured 
as they were scaling the garden wall, and at the trial one 
confessed that they had spent eight weeks in making prepa- 
rations for entering the house from which they removed 
nothing, and upon doing so found it to have been freshly 
painted, so transferred their attention to the adjoining build- 
ing, thereby bringing about their capture. 

A criminal studies the weather quite as carefully as the 
farmer does. He will not perpetrate a crime on the night of 
a new moon, nor if the orb has a halo or mist round it. 
And were he to plunder a house during an eclipse, he might 
as soon give himself up to the law at once, for his days out- 
side of prison walls would be numbered. Even more trifling 
incidents are of equal significance to tKe robber. 
It is bad luck to be followed by a dog, and 
any undertaking or plundering plan will be 
abandoned for the time, as it means capture or 

If the house selected has crape on the door, to 
• enter would be to court disaster, and to kick 

Burglars' Superstitions. 


against a piece of coal in the road would bring about a 
similar result. 

Pickpockets are very careful not to rob a cross-eyed or 
club-footed person. To rob a blind man would be to bring, 
down misfortune ; but, curiously enough, a blind woman can 
be victimized with impunity. A stolen purse that contains a 
battered coin or lock of hair is thrown away intact, or the 
thief will find himself a prisoner before the day is out. 

Talismans are freely carried and implicitly believed in. 
Burglars in the olden days used to rob a house by the light 
of a candle made of human fat; but the superstition has 
nearly died out, owing to the difficulty of procuring material 
to make them, although it is still prevalent to some extent in 
Scotland and Ireland. When Burke and Hare were murder- 
ing human beings for the medical profession in Scotland, in 
1828, it is claimed they also supplied human fat to burglars, 
the doctors giving Hare a few bottles, as they were told it 
was a good cure for rheumatism. The medicos treated it as 
a joke, but Hare sold it to some of the housebreakers he was 
intimate with. Old nails, broken horseshoes, curiously 
shaped pebbles, and endless other trinkets have times with- 
out number been found in the pockets of captured crimi- 
nals who have begged that every- 
thing else they possessed should f?\- 
be taken from them rather than ^^^J 
the talisman to which they 
pinned their faith. Charles Peace 
— perhaps the greatest burglar ^•ti^^V/v 
who ever lived •'.,.,. 


28 The Right Way to Do Wrong 

success was due to the pawn-ticket of a violin he pawned 
when he was a boy» and which he always carried with him. 


Our chapter on burglary would scarcely be complete with- 
out some reference to safe-cracking as a special division of 
the profession. It is a comparatively small matter to break 
and enter a house and get away with valuables ; but to effect 
an entrance into a well-guarded bank and succeed in open- 
ing safes which have been constructed with every appliance 
known to the modern safe-builders' art is an entirely different 
proposition. The •• cracking " of such a •• crib " is the work 
of an experienced and especially skilful man. 

My friend James Sargent, of Sargent & Greenleaf, 
Rochester, N. Y.> invented the time-lock. Cracksmen would 
rout the cashier out of his bed with a loaded revolver, and 
force him to go to the bank and open the safe. But now 
with the time-lock and other safety electrical safeguards the 
old burglar tools are worthless ; where once tools were used 
in cutting off locks, tearing off plates, drilling through the 
lock so as to pick the combination, the cracksman has kept 
apace of the times and utilizes modern scientific methods to 
open safes. To open a time-lock they first start in and by 
hammering the safe break the clock-work. Now they re- 
sort to either a large carbon and get their electricity by 
tapping the trolley-car current and burning circles around 
the lock, or they rniake use of a terrible compound invented 
by Goldschmidt (a man I met in Essen Ruhr, Germany). 
This compound is named **///^rwi/V." This is a kind of a 
mixture of fine aluminum filings or powder and iron oxide. 

When this mixture is ignited by suitable means, it gives 
the extraordinary heat of 3000** C. This compound or 
concoction, if allowed to flow on top of a safe, will 
BURN A HOLE clear through most any safe made. I was 
in Berlin when the first tests were made, and one enterprising 
safe manufacturer built a safe that was invulnerable to this 
immense heat, and calls it the "Anti-Thermit" Geldschrank. 


Burglars' Superstitions 



Burglary is no longer crude 
robbing, but an art. The only 
men who are able successfully 
to overcome the obstacles of 
the safemakers and locksmiths, 
and at the same time avoid the 
police, are the ones who em- 
ploy as much care and thought 
in their work as the successful 
business man. The man who 
once turned to burglary as a 
last resort chose a dark night 
to force his way into a store, 
and after hours of work with 
files and saws forced the door from the safe, can no longer 
succeed. The only men who succeed in their efforts to open 
safes now are the ones who often spend weeks studying con- 
ditions and preparing their instruments. The resistance 
offered by the fine grades of steel used in safes usually 
destroys the tools used to open the locks. 

The ingenuity of the safe-cracker is greater only than that 
of the burglar and sneak thief who depends on the use of 
skeleton keys and jimmies to make his way past locks and 
bolts. The skeleton key can only be used in picking simple 
locks with wards. The burglar's jimmy is often a plain iron 
bar, sharpened at one end that permits its insertion beneath a 
window or at the side of a door. Some of the professional 
burglars, however, carry sectional jimmies that for efficiency 
are greater than any other burglar tool manufactured. 

Safe burglars often purchase old safes and practice on 
them. Now-a-days they work almost entirely on the lock. 
The method is first to remove the dial with a special jimmy 
and then drill a small hole five-eighths of an inch above the 
spindle, and with a knitting needle or fine wire ** pick up" 
the combination and thus open the safe. 







THIEF is one who 
appropriates any 

kind of property or money to his own use 
without the consent of the owner. As distin- 
guished from a burglar, a thief does not break 
into a house or enter in the night time, but 
takes his plunder wherever he can find it. A 
thief may gain entrance to a house and steal a valuable 
diamond, but he uses his sharp wits to pass the door instead 
of the burglars' jimmy and skeleton keys. 

There are thieves of various kinds, from the common sneak 
thief and shoplifter to the expert pickpocket and clever 
swindler, who sometimes makes hauls amounting to many 
thousands of dollars. The use of the word «* thief," however, 
is generally confined to such classes of criminals as shop- 
lifters, pickpockets, and the like. Overcoat thieves ply their 
trade in the residential sections of the city. They will 
sometimes ring the front doorbell and ask for the master or 
mistress of the house, giving some plausible pretext, and 
usually the name of the party living there. While the 
servant has gone to tell the mistress of the caller, he quietly 
picks up what garments are in sight on the hat-rack and 
makes off with them. 

The Venetian blind thief got his name from the practise 
of -the English thieves of making the pretext that they had 
come to repair the blinds of the house. A thief will call at 
the door claiming to be a mechanic to look ove/ the house for 
necessary repairs, and in his rounds will gather up any valu- 

Thieves and Their Tricks 31 

able article that he can lay his hands on. This class of 
rascal even impersonates the plumber or the gas inspector 

. with equally successful results. 

Thieves at church are a very common occurrence, A 
case is related in London not long ago where a chapel had 
been furnished with one hundred new Bibles, They were 
first used at the afternoon service, and when the congregation 
gathered for evening they had all disappeared. A very 
common experience of church officers is to find that books 
disappear gradually; not only books, but hassocks and 
cushions are taken from houses of worship. Petty robberies 
from the collection box are not infrequent. In some local- 
ities the custom of covering one's offering with one's hand 
so that other worshipers shall not see the amount given 
gives the thief his opportunity, for in the rapid passing of the 
plate it is easy for the skilful professional thief to put in a 
penny and at the same moment take out a dollar. This is 
sometimes done by a sticky substance put upon a single 
finger. Umbrella thieves and pickpockets also ply their 
trade in church as well as in other places of public gathering. 
How can you detect a church thief ? is a question I have 
often asked detectives. There seems to be no real answer ; but, 
as a general rule, it is just as well to look out for your property 
as carefully when you are in church as when you are out. 

Thieves as Wedding Guests. There is scarcely a fashion- 
able wedding where the contracting parties are wealthy that 
does not suffer from the presence of wedding thieves. For 
this reason, the more expensive .tems of jewelry are often 
imitated in paste before they are ^ut on exhibition among the 
gifts, while the originals are sent to the bank. The wedding- 
gift lifter works his game as follows : Disguised as a trades- 
man or assistant, he gains the confidence of the servants, gets 
a description of a diamond tiara, or other article of great 
value, which he then has a duplicate made of set with imita- 
tion paste diamonds. He will even go as far as to pay $15 or 

. $100 for a good imitation article. Armed with this and 

ti^ perfectly dressed, he makes his way among the party of 




The Right Way to Do Wrong 


guests and finds it 
no great risk to 
adroitly change the 
counterfeit for the 
genuine jewel. 

Trick of the Van 
Thief. Vans that 
are covered entirely 
with tarpaulin or 
canvas and have a 
loose back present oppK)rtunities to the van thief. A favorite 
trick is for the thief to wheel a hand cart, covered with 
sacking, under which a confederate lies concealed, behind one 
of these vans. The confederate quickly puts the upper 
part of his body inside the van, his feet remaining in the 
cart. Being concealed from view by the loose tarpaulin, he 
seizes a package, dropping back with it into the cart, which is 
pushed off at once. A wet day is preferred for this trick, 
as then not so many people 
are about, and the driver 
is likely to be holding 
his head down as a pro- 
tection from the rain, in 
consequence of which he 
will not look behind. 

The Trick Satchel 
Thieves. It is when the 
dark days come round that 
the railway-station thief 
most safely conducts his 
operations. The summer 
tourist he loves not, for 
his luggage contains few 
valuables, and there is 
then too much light 
about. A dull afternoon 
and well-to-do people . the trick satchel 

Thieves and Their Tricks 


going off by train are what the platform prowler asks for. 
And here is shown as a warning, if needs be, an artful 
appliance that station thieves have used of late years. . It 
looks like an ordinary portmanteau; and so it is with a 

It is a specially-made portmanteau, the bottom of which 
closes up on pressure being applied. Thus, when, as shown 
in the illustration, the ** trick" portmanteau is placed over a 
smaller one that lies upon the platform, the larger one comes 
down as a cover over it. By a movement of the thumb of 
the hand that holds the portmanteau handle, powerful springs 
are released which tightly grasp the portmanteau that is 
inside, and it can thus be carried away completely enveloped 
from sight. 

If, therefore, you see a suspicious-looking character hang- 
ing about, don't set him down as a genuine passenger just 
because he has a bag. 

Diamond in a Chew of Gum. 

One of the cleverest and most unscrupulous diamond 
thieves I ever heard of perfected a scheme for daylight 
robbery of unmounted gems which for a time simply defied 
detectives of London and Paris. The game was played as 
follows : 

A lady, well dressed and looking like a respectable and 
wealthy matron who might be the wife of a banker or large 
merchant, enters a jewelry store and asks to see some 
unmounted diamonds. 
The clerk shows her the -<^i^ '^*^- 

stones, and while she is 
looking at them, a second 
lady equally respectable 
in appearance enters and 
approaches the same 
counter. She seems to 
.be interested in diamonds. 
^Suddenly one of the most the chewing gum trick 

34 The Right Way to Do Wrong 

valuable gems is missing. The proprietor is summoned, the 
detectives rush in, and an officer is called. The women, who 
both declare their innocence, are carefully searched, but the 
diamond has absolutely disappeared. Eventually both the 
women are released, but the diamond is never recovered. 

The way the trick was played is this : 

One of the women (both of whom are members of the 
gang) deftly concealed the diamond in a piece of chewing 
gum and sticks it on the under side of the front edge of the 

There it remains safely hidden away while the frantic * 
search is going on. A third member of the gang slips in 
afterward with the crowd of curious and removes the gum 
containing the diamond and makes off with it. 

Said the fond mother: •• Never would I call a boy of 
mine • Alias ' if I had a hundred to name. Men by that 
name is alius cuttin' up capers. Here's Alias Thompson, 
Alias Williams, Alias the Night Hawk — all been took up 
for stealing." 

Teacher : How many of my scholars can remember the 
longest sentence they ever read? 

Billy : Please, mum, I can. 

Teacher: What? Is there only one? Well, William, 
you may toll the real o£ the scholurs the longest sentence you 
ever read. 

Billy : Imprisonment for life. 




■' - i - i V'" - » | - . l i , ^ Jfir^ i /p ji'm i- I 

HERE are kings of crime as well as kings 
of finance* Much the same talent which 
enables John D. Rockefeller to pile up a 
thousand million doUars or Henry H, 
Rogers to control unnumbered millions in 
Wall Street^ applied in a di^erent direction , de- 
velops that high grade of criminal whose rob- 
beries are exploited in scare-head stories in newspapers, and 
are the talk of the country for many days. The case which 
occurred at Liverpool a short time ago was the work of a 
bright man. The circumstances related to me by a news- 
paper man are as follows: ** One day Messrs. Oldfield & 
Co., of Liverpool, received a telegram purporting to come 
from Mrs. Brattlebank, of Garston, then staying in London, 
ordering a quantity of diamonds to be sent to her Garston 
residence. Mrs. Brattlebank being a wealthy customer and 
well known to. this jewelry house, a package of valuable 
stones was made up and sent by registered post, after being 
insured for $5,000. 

After the arrival of the package in Garston, a well-dressed 
gentleman representing himself to be Mr. Laing Miller, a 
wealthy South African ship owner and a friend of the 
Brattlebanks, called at the residence, having previously ex- 
plained by telephone that he was coming to take the pack-, 
age to Mrs. Brattlebank in London. The whole alTalr 
seemed so open and aboveboard, and the appearance of Mr. 
ivfiller so honest and convincing, that the valuable package 
'vas handed over to him without question. Neither Mr. 
^( ss 

36 The Right Way to Do Wrong 

Miller, who is now suspected to be one of the most expert 
confidence men in the Kingdom, nor the diamonds have 
ever been seen since." 

The Swindler Who Lowered a Check. The crime of rais- 
ing a check is often attempted, and sometimes successfully, but 
it is seldom that a criminal attempts to lower the figures on a 
check and cash it for a less sum than it was made out for. 
The following incident occurred in Wall Street not long ago, 
showing that the man who conceived it must have had a 
ready wit and a clever brain, as well as considerable daring 
to put it into execution. It is said that this ingenious swindler 
had already realized between two and three thousand dollars 
by his startling new method of lowering checks. 

For instance, a stock exchange broker sells one thousand 
shares of a stock to ten customers in blocks of one hundred 
shares at 91. Each purchaser prepares a check for $9,100 
for the seller when the messenger boys make their rounds. 
If the checks are not ready when the messenger calls out to 
the cashier, who usually cannot see the boy, he is told to 
come back later. 

This swindler follows a messenger boy, and when the 
boy is told to return later the fellow returns himself in a 
short time and gets the check, which is readily handed over 
to him. 

Having secured the check for $9,100 flie swindler hurries 
away, and, knowing that safety does not lie in presenting 
the check for so large an amount, reduces it to $910, makes 
it payable to bearer by the use of chemicals, and secures the 

A Daring Train Robbery. Among the clever coups that 
have come to my attention here is one related by an ex-con- ' 
vict, and published recently in an English periodical which 
presents some rather interesting features. The writer says : 
" A certain lady of high social position was known to possess 
an exceptionally valuable collection of jewelry, and some of Y 
us had long been casting covetous eyes upon it. One daj / 
she started from St. Pancras in the Scotch express for he ( 

The Aristocrat of Thievery 


husband's seat in the Highlands, the jewelry being securely 
packed in one of her numerous trunks. These were duly 
placed in the luggage van, which was locked, and only opened 
by the guard at the two or three places where the express 
stopped. No one save the railway servants entered the van or 
left it, neither had the doors been opened while the train was 
in motion. But when the trunk in question was unlocked far 
away in Scotland, the jewel case was gone, and from that 
day to this not the slightest clue has been found as to its dis- 
appearance. Here was a case for a Sherlock Holmes or a 
Martin Hewitt, but either these gentlemen were not forth- 
coming, or they totally failed to solve what is, perhaps, the 
most mysterious railway robbery of recent days. 

**Let me lift the veil and show how the little job was 
worked. Two men, both of whom are still making a very 
comfortable income as railway thieves, got to know of the 
lady's proposed journey, and discovered the train by which 
she intended to travel. Accordingly, they also traveled 
north by that train, though they did not go as far as Scotland. 
On the contrary, they only booked to Leeds. Their luggage 
consisted of two portmanteaus and a massive wooden trunk, 
strongly hooped and padlocked. It was an honest, straight- 
forward-looking trunk, but any one who examined it very 




38 The Right Way to Do Wrong 

closely might have discovered a quantity of small holes in its 
sides, practically concealed by the iron hoops, between 
which and the woodwork there was at intervals a slight 
space. That trunk did not contain the large assortment of 
wearing apparel that might have been supposed ; in fact, it 
only contained one suit of clothes, and that suit encased the 
limbs of a boy of fourteen I 

*• As soon as the train was well on its journey, one end of 
the trunk opened, and the small boy emerged. With the 
aid of a goodly stock of •skeleton keys and pick-locks — the 
English hamper locks can be opened with a button-hook, 
they are so simple — he opened the various hampers bearing 
her ladyship's name, and presently discovered the jewel case, 
which he removed to his own box. He then locked up the 
trunks, returned to his hiding-place, closed the sliding panel, 
curled himself up comfortably in the box, and went to sleep 
for the rest of the journey. 

** At Leeds the two men alighted, called a porter, who got 
their luggage out of the van for them, and then drove in a 
cab to a certain temperance hotel in Briggate, where, in the 
privacy of the room they had secured, the boy was let out of 
the box, and the jewel case gleefully examined. Its con- 
tents traveled back to London by the next train, and were 
safely on the continent before the news of the robbery had 
reached Scotland Yard." 

A Check /or $jo^ooo. A single ••plant" on a Chicago 
bank was pulled off recently, whereby the clever swindler 
coppered out $30,000 for himself with very little effort. The 
bank officers tried to hush the matter up as much as possible, 
and for the sake of the depositors I shall not give the name 
of the institution, but the facts which I am certain are sub- 
stantially as follows : A depositor of several years' standing 
appeared a few days ago in the bank president's office with 
a draft on London for £6,000, which was perfectly good. / 
The depositor informed the president he desired to deposit ( 
this London draft, and at the same time to check against it, 
presenting his check for $30,000 for the president to O. K.I , 

The Aristocrat of Thievery 39 

The latter put his initials on it and thought no more of the 
transaction. The depositor then went out into the bank and 
deposited his London draft, and on the following day pre- 
sented a check for $30,000, which was paid, the teller know- 
ing that that amount was to his credit on the books. Later 
in the day he again appeared at the window and presented 
the check for $30,000, which had been initialed by the presi- 
dent. This check was also paid. Nothing more has since 
been seen of the depositor. 

Embezzler's Wife: You are a thief and a criminal. 
Never speak to me again 1 

Embezzler : But I stole it all for your sake. 

Embezzler's Wife : Yes, but didn't you go and give it 
all back again? — Cincinnati Commercial- Tribune. 

** What did that man do to make himself so famous?** 
asked the inquirer, gazing curiously at an individual who 
formed the center of a social group. 

** To the best of my knowledge," replied the cynic, " he 
did the public." 


^ ' ■::-<m^^ 


MOKG the most interestiRg classes of thieves 
IS the pickpocket, whose clever subterfuges 
and skill of hand have been so often exploited 
in novel and story-book, Yoor professional 
pickpocket is naturally a rover, and travels the 
country over^ attending large gatherings. Of 
professional pickpockets there are a number of 
types, each adapted to the class of **work" in which he 

It is the usual opinion that a pickpocket is a forbidding 
and suspicious looking fellow, but a glance at the rogues' 
gallery in any police headquarters will show you that they 
look much like ordinary individuals, and are of more than 
average intelligence. The pickpocket is usually very well 
dressed and of prepossessing appearance. Those who seek 
to make only large hauls are entertaining talkers and easy 
in their manner. They are generally self-possessed and, 
while dexterous, are very cautious in their operations. 

It is needless to say that women make the most patient as 
well as the most dangerous pickpockets. It is simply amazing 
how quickly an expert pickpocket, with a delicate touch, seem- 
ingly accidental, will locate the resting-place of a well-filled 
purse or other article of value which he chooses to abstract. 
When once discovered they follow their intended victims until 
the proper opportunity comes. A common pickpocket trick 
is for the operator to carry a shawl or overcoat carelessly 
over the left arm, and to take a seat on the right side of the 
person they intend to rob in a street-car or other vehicle. 

Pickpockets at Work 




Sometimes a small and very sharp 
knife is used to cut the side of the 
dress or pantaloons of the victim, 
so that the purse may be abstracted 
^yithout going into the pocket di- 
rectly. Others of this light-fin- 
gered gentry wear light overcoats 
with large pockets removed. They 
will endeavor to stand near a per- 
son, preferably a woman, who is 
paying her fare and has displayed 
a well-filled purse. The pickpocket 
then carelessly throws his coat over 
her dress, and by inserting his 
hand through the outside opening 
of his own pocket, quietly proceeds 
to abstract her purse. Pickpockets either work alone or in 
pairs, or what is called a mob. Most female pickpockets 
seem to prefer to work alone, sometimes, however, working 
in conjunction with a man thief to whom they pass their 
plunder, and thus make detection impossible if they are 
suspected and searched. 

The mob is a gang of expert pickpockets under the direc- 
tion of a leader who has had experience, and knows all the 
tricks. Their usual game is to frequent some crowded plat- 
form or a railway station, and raise an apparent row in 
which two men seem to engage in a scuffle or quarrel and 
come to blows. Others rush in attempting to separate them, 
and the attention of the whole crowd of people is for the 
moment directed strongly that way. At the same moment 
other single light-fingered miembers of the same gang crowd 
in with the citizens who are being jostled, and abstract their 
pocketbooks and watches without any trouble. Recently a 
gang has successfully worked in several of the subway sta- 
tions in Boston, and the same gang has successfully plyed 
this vocation in New York, Chicago, and Philadelphia. 

The false-arm game, or the ** third mit," as it is known 


42 The Right Way to Do Wrong 

to the professional pickpocket, is said to be little employed in 
this country now. A loose cape overcoat is worn in one 
of the sleeves of which a false arm and hand are fixed. 
Thus a detective who may be watching the pickpocket will 
see apparently both of his hands in view, while in reality the 
light skilful fingers of the operator's left hand are going 
through the pockets of the man beside of whom he is stand- 
ing. This dodge is very much employed on the continent 
by shoplifters. 

One of the many fertile dodges by which a pickpocket 
escapes detection is known as the horse-dodge. The thief 
so arranges as to meet his victim by the side of a horse stand- 
ing by the curbstone. He has previously located the watch 
or purse he wishes to lift, and with a quick blow he knocks 
his victim's hat over his eyes, grabs the pocketbook or watch 
or whatever else he is after, and immediately darts under the 
horse, and hides himself in the traffic on the other side. By 
the time the victim has got the use of his eyes, and is able to 
look around, the thief has entirely disappeared, and he 
would not be apt to look in the right direction, at any rate. 

In the outskirts of London, among the small shops, a 
rather unusual trick has been played frequently upon un- 
suspecting shopkeepers. Two men in earnest argument 
over some matter enter a small grocery store and approach 
the proprietor who is behind his till. One man says to the 
proprietor, ** My friend and I have gottten into an argument 
over a peculiar matter which we believe you cian settle for 
us. I have bet him that my hat," taking off an old-fashioned 
stove-pipe hat, ** will hold more than four quarts of molasses, 
while he contends that it will hold hardly three quarts. We 
are willing to buy the molasses if you will fill this hat and 
prove the question to decide the bet." The shopkeeper 
good-humoredly agrees, and brings the hat brimful with 
sticky molasses, at which one of the thieves 
slaps it over the shopkeeper's head, and be- 
fore he can extricate himself and call help 
they have robbed the till and disappeared. 




o « o 


^ HERE probably is not a reader of this book 

„ ^^^^^ . , who has not frequently been accosted on the 

■ j^^^ j 1 \ street corners by the poorly-dressed, shivering 

f^iii wretch who asks in a whining voice for a coin 

*^" or two to get him a night's lodging. 

Who has not experienced the mingled feeling 
of repugnance and pity which their stories are 
intended to produce? Who has not, rather than nin the 
chance of turning away an honest 
man in real distress, put his hand in 
his pocket and dropped a dime or a 
quarter into grimy, outstretched fin- 
gers and went on his way more than 
half convinced that he had paid money 
to a fraud. 

Beggars there have been since civ- 
ilization created the distinctions of 
wealth and poverty and must needs be 
till a higher, better civilization makes 
misery and crime impossible or un- 
necessary. For ages the mendicant 
has flourished, plying his vocation on 
the credulous and making profit out 
of the fact that humanity and religion 
make almsgiving a virtue. In the 
Middle Ages beggars became so nu- 
merous that they threatened to overrun 
the continent. The begging *• friars '* 




The Right Way to Do Wrong 

and other religious orders encouraged it and the beggars 
throve. To-day the modern law in most lands forbids beg- 
ging, but still most people would be surprised to know to 
what extent it is practised, — that is, to what lengths and in 
what numbers the fraudulent cheating professional beggar 
preys upon the alms-giving, over-credulous public. 

I have watched the beggars of most of the great cities of 
America and Europe, and have made some little investiga- 
tion into their methods, and I do not hesitate to say that in 
ninety cases out of a hundred the man who asks for alms on 
the street corner is a cheat and a fraud. If the public would 
take my advice and absolutely refrain from giving to beg- 
gars, this nuisance might soon be done away with. If the 
beggar no longer found his calling profitable, he would soon 
go to work or seek other fields of activity. 

As a rule, the beggars we see upon our streets belong to 
well-organized gangs and their in- 
dividual members are controlled by a 
chief whose word is law. For simple 
begging the territory is laid out and 
each man keeps within his own beat. 
At night they assemble at some cheap 
lodging-house, where each one turns 
over his day's ** takings " to the leader, 
who acts as treasurer and even often 
deposits a fund in the bank to be used 
in emergencies or for bail money. A 
certain portion of the income for the 
day is divided each night among all 
members, either equally or in certain 
shares agreed upon. It is said that a 
leader or treasurer is always faithful to 
his trust, for if he were to appropriate 
the money, he would at once be barred 
out of the ** United Order of American 
Beggars" or ««Sons of Rest," and 
« KID "JOHNSON blacklisted all over the country. 

Beggars and Dead Beats 45 

Sometimes the leaders will take in young boys and train 
;hem in the art of deceiving the public. Chief Watts tells 
)ne such story of a young man known as ** Kid" Johnson, 
m orphan boy who came under the influence of ••Frisco's 
Slim," the burly leader of a gang of Boston beggars. This 
/iley mendicant filled the lad's mind with stories about easy 
money and showed him how he (Frisco Slim) had •• doc- 
tored " his arm with a chemical to give it the appearance of 
a frightful burn. 

••With that arm," said Frisco, ••! collar many a dollar 
every day of my life. 1*11 fix your arm in another style that'll 
catch on great I " 

So the mere boy was enrolled as •• Kid Johnson " and taken 
to a resort known to the gang, where his arm was put in a plas- 
ter cast, and he was sent out to beg on the street. His scanty 
clothing was thin and ragged, his toes peeped through his 
shoes, and he looked the picture of weariness and hunger. 
In a short time the •• Kid" proved one of the best money- 
getters of the whole gang. But his masters' demands grew 
faster than his ability to bring in the coin. He was required 
to bring in a certain amount each day and ill-treated if it fell 
short. His life was that of a slave. He was finally rescued 
I by the police and given a chance to reform and lead an hon- 
I est life, but the taint of crime had entered his nature and he 
I soon ran away to take to the road and street again. 
I The Magic Cap, A German organist who came to St. 
\ Petersburg from Orenburg on a visit to his relatives met with 
3 an adventure which caused him to wonder whether he had 
by accident been transported into the Mystic East and car- 
ried back to the times of the Arabian Nights. The story of 
his adventure might well be entitled *• The Magic Cap," and 
it will be seen that it bears a strong resemblance to the 
story of •• Aladdin and his Wonderful Lamp." 

On arriving at St. Petersburg the German visitor pur- 
chased a cap, which he thought would be more comfortable 
^ I. l.n his ordinary headgear for exploring the town, with 
Jw'fich he was not well acquainted. On arriving home in the 

4^ The Right Way to Do Wrong 

{ evening after his first day's sightseeing he was greatly sur- 

prised to find in the pockets of his overcoat two purses, one 
of them containing over ten pounds. 

He marvelled greatly at his mysterious luck, and sallied 
out again next day. When he came home again he found 
in his pockets several more purses, and began to feel alarmed. 
When on the third day he came home with another windfall 
in his pockets he became frightened. But his Teutonic com- 
monsenpp wnnld not nllow him in IipII^vp Im |Ii0 u^Ibluuuu ut 
magic, and he decided to have recourse to the prosaic police 
force in order to elucidate the mystery. 

Accordingly, he sought out the chief of police, and told 

' him all the facts. The astute official examined him closely 

as to the clothes he was wearing, and particularly as to the 
cap he had bought in St. Petersburg, and on receiving his 

• replies sent the German with a policeman to the hatter's 

shop. The shopkeeper explained that the cap was of an ex- 
ceptional kind. Some time ago a man had called on him 
and given him a large piece of English cloth, out of which he 
was to make fifteen caps of exact similarity. On concluding 
this order the hatter found that he had a piece of the cloth 
left over, and of this he made an extra cap, the identical one 
which was sold to the German. 

On the strength of this information the chief of police ar- 
ranged for a detective to accompany the German on his next 
day's sightseeing, and then the mystery of the ** magic 
cap " was fully cleared up. Watching his charge carefully, 
the detective saw various men lounge furtively up to the 
German and transfer something from their hands to his 
pockets. On each occasion the man thus discovered was 
arrested, and in the course of two or three days, during 
which the same plan was pursued, the police made prisoners 
of about a dozen men. They turned out to be a gang of 
pickpockets and all wore a cap of the same pattern as that 
purchased by the German. Their plan was to pass on their 
plunder to a confederate, for whom the German had br^^ 
mistaken. i 

. Beggars and Dead Beats 47 

1 A very favorite trick of begging-letter writers is to try 
to obtain money on behalf of some bogus society in which 
tiiey think the celebrity written to might be interested. The 
swindler will even go so far as to get the name of a fictitious 
institution printed on a number of letters, and writing as the 
secretary ask for a subscription. Probably in nine cases out 
of ten this will be sent without any further inquiries being 
made by the recipient of the request, the printed letter-paper 
btilug M»ihoUl0if»i1 rt i^itOlrtf^dt gURrrtntee hr to tlie genuinenefls 
|of the appeal. 

I Often professional beggars are actually men of wealth. 
j,Not long ago a beggar died in New York who had eleven 
jbank-books concealed about his person, with deposits amount- 
ing to thousands of dollars. Beggars frequently own real 
estate, stocks, and bonds. This is putting a beggar on horse- 
back with a vengeance. 

An actual incident of this kind was disclosed in one of our 
largest cities not long ago. In a smart little villa in one of 
the suburbs lived an equally smart young married couple. 
Mr. Cecil Brown Smith was the name on the door-plate, and 
every morning Mr. Smith went into the city, and every 
evening came home. If a neighbor asked about business, 
he would reply, 

** Oh, pretty good, I can't complain." 

So the pretty little wife was happy from morning till night 
and all went well. 

In the city, shuffling painfully along one of the principal 
streets, a miserable object had for some time touched the 
hearts (and pockets) of stockbrokers and city men. Even 
the poor, almost beggars themselves, have dropped their 
mite into the cigar-box full of matches which he carried in 
his one hand, for he was an object of such abject misery. 

One arm hung helpless by his side, his head hung with 

the weakness of paralysis. His right leg ^yas paralyzed, 

and he laboriously dragged it after him. 

[ b^No one on earth would have supposed a connection be- 

Iwl^en the crippled match-seller, always so grateful for alms, 

48 The Right Way to Do Wrong 

and the snug suburban home. But for some reason XvfO 
disguised detectives for some hours took a close interest in 
the beggar's business. 

When the match-vender's ** day's work" was over, one of 
the detectives followed him and witnessed an astonishing 

First, said tHe detective, the lame man dragged himself to 
an adjacent tobacconist's shop, where he changed his silver 
and coppers into bills. Here, too, he left the cigar-box and 
the matches until the morrow, and then he boarded a car to 
a cheap lodging-house, and by the time he had arrived there 
his lameness had disappeared and he went up the steps two 
at a time. 

Finally, he went home to the smart little villa already 
described. He was the gentleman who lived there with his 
wife and child. 

One afternoon, as the match-peddler was shuffling pain- 
fully along with the cigar-box as before, Detective Number 
One suddenly confronted him : 

*• You're an impostor," said the detective. 

** Can you prove it?" demanded the beggar. 

The officer said he could, and at once arrested him for 
begging. As the prisoner declared he could not walk, and 
objected to the publicity of an ambulance, he was conveyed 
to the police station in a cab. 

In the dock at the police station, he presented the appear- 
ance of an intelligent and fairly well-dressed man of twenty- 

One of the most amazing features of the case was a state- 
ment that Smith's wife was surprised to hear of her husband's 
** goings on." She knew nothing about Smith's occupation 
in the city. 

Begging cards covered with the worst kind of doggerel 
** poetry" are often used by beggars. Who has not at one 
time or another received one like the following entitled •* The 
Cripple's Appeal " ? 

I Beggars and Dead Beats 49 

i . 

[: ^ Kind people, do not fear me, 

I Or turn me from your door. 

I I ask you but to hear me, 

i . Or read my story o'er. 

I *Tis the same old tale of hardship, 

f Misfortune, and of woe, 

' That others have told before me, 

And youWe heard it all, I know. 
From house to house in the city 

This little appeal I've made, 
And it's with a hope for pity 

That I ask you for your aid. 

Did you ever give a nickel or a dime to the person who 
landed you such a card? If you did, you gave to an out- 
.nd-out professional beggar. Indeed, nine times out of ten — 
resj ninety-nine times out of one hundred — every coin that 
^oes into the tin cup or the hand of a street beggar goes to a 
craud of the worst description. 

Visitor (at the gaol) : Poor, poor man 1 May I offer 
you this bunch of flowers? 

\ Man Behind the Bars : You've made a mistake, miss. 
The feller that killed his wife and children is in the next 
Cell. I'm yere for stealing a cow. 

* It would be helpful to you," said the prison visitor, *« if 
^ou could take some motto and try and live up to it." 
I «* That's right," replied the convict ; *« I'd like to select, for 
instance, * We are here to-day and gone to-morrow.* " 

I i 


VERY section of the country, almost every city,' 
has one or more begging letter writers, who ply 
their trade with greater or less success, and ex-* 
ercise their arts upon the simple and credulous j 
These clever rascals range all the way from 
the ignorant crook that writes a pitiful story oi 
want and misery, and who neither receives norj 
expects more than a few dollars at a time^ to the master of ; 
the craft, who goes about it like a regular business, has a } 
vrell-organized office and a force of stenographers and clerks, 1 
who are kept busy day in and day out sending off and re- \ 
ceiving mail, J 

Several remarkable cases have been unearthed only lately, i 
where the fake was receiving hundreds of letters daily, the { 
large majority of them containing money. The post-office i 
authorities, however, have been getting after this class of; 
rogues very sharply of late, and any organized plundering by \ 
the use of the mails, is almost certain to come to an untimely 1 
end sooner or later. \ 

If any one has reason to believe that a business of the kind 
is conducted on fraudulent lines,- a complaint to one of the \ 
post-office inspectors in any large city will quickly bring a ( 
** fraud order" against the party, restraining them from use 
oi the mails, and a rigid investigation follows. Then the | 
game is up, and it's back to the ** tall timber" for them. It I 
is a well-known fact, however, that this recourse to the , 
«* fraud order " is frequently used by unprincipled persons, out • 
of spite and to obtain revenge upon those who are actually con- 



1 Begging Letter Swindles 51 

(ducting a legitimate business. The fraudulent advertise- 
ment is often an adjunct to the bogus letter scheme, and 
designed to get names to whom a special kind of letter may 
be written. One of the most daring schemes of this kind 
was unearthed a short time ago in New York City. A man 
fitted up a suite of offices in elegant style in one of the large 
office buildings. He then traveled to South Dakota, and 
under the laws of that State, incorporated a stock company, 
with a capitalization of five million dollars. It wa« called a 
commercial and mining company. Returning to New. York, 
he instructed the Press Clipping Bureau to save him the 
obituary notices of all males that died in the States other than 
New York — just far enough away from the center of opera- 
tions to be comfortable for him. 

Using these obituary notices for guides, he would- write 
to the dead man, notifying him that the last payment was 
due on the five hundred or one thousand shares of stock 
which he had bought at fifty cents a share. He congratu- 
lated the man on his foresight on investing in this stock, 
as it had gone up several points, and was still rising in 
value. He begged that a remittance in final payment of this 
stock should be sent at once. 

A beautifully engrossed certificate of stock was enclosed 
in the letter to the dead man, and the inevitable result was 
that the surviving relatives, thinking the departed one had 
bought this stock quietly and forgotten to mention it, sent on 
a check for all the way from five hundred to one hundred 
dollars as requested. It was one of the prettiest schemes that 
has been worked for a long time, and the actual amount of 
money realized by the swindler will never 
be known. Such a ** snap" could not last 
long, ho\yever, and the promulgator of the 
swindle was soon detected and brought to 

One man advertised to sell ten yards of 
good silk for twenty-five cents, and so 
worded his announcement as to suggest a 

/ / 

52 The Right Way to Do Wrong 

bankrupt sale or smuggled goods. For a time he reaped 
rich harvest. Money came thick and fast. To each of hii 
dupes he mailed ten yards of sewing silk I 

Another rascal offered a complete and perfect sewingi 
machine for one dollar. He, also, gathered in the dollars a^ 
a rapid rate, till Uncle Sam put a stop to his operations — he 
sent his victims a common sewing needle I | 

This is quite in line with the fellow who advertised a fev\^ 
years ago to tell a sure way of getting rid of chinch bugs for 
one dollar. After the victim had sent the dollar, he received 
by mail a card upon which was printed the following : — 

Catch the chinch bug. Hold it by the leg^ carefully 
between the thumb and forefinger. Lay its head on 
the anvil, and hit it with a hammer as hard as you can. 

Many of these advertisements are inserted merely to re- 
ceive names and addresses of credulous people. The lists of 
names are then sold or rented out to fake mail-order houses, 
who proceed to circularize them. 

Chain letter schemes are now declared illegal, but for 
some time a number of clever dodges of this kind were 
worked throughout the United States as well as on the conti- 
nent. A brief description of one of these schemes will show 
the character of this kind of enterprise : — 

The scheme was where a trip to the Paris Exposition, with 
two hundred dollars for expenses, was offered as a prize. 
Each person entering the contest was required to pay thirty 
cents, then send to friends two letters, requesting them to 
send their names to the original promoter, and send duplicate 
letters to two of their friends, the operation to be repeated 

Each person writing to the original promoter was to re- 
ceive an offer, allowing him to start a chain on his own 
account, on payment of thirty cents, the trip and money going 
to the one whose chain brings out the largest number of let- 
ters. The ostensible object was to secure names for employ- 
ment at the exposition. 




— ■ - 1 -,iH ■; — L'. ' p.j jij ' _^ \.!^ ■■ — ^ . — 

OMETHING for nothing has ever tempted 
the simple and unsophisticated ; indeed, it is a 
trait of human nature upon which the swindler 
everywhere, and in all ages, has relied to his 

The origin of the term ** bunco'* comes 
from an old English game of chance in which 
a checkered cloth covered with numbers and stars is covered 
with a hood called a *• bunco." The game was to throw 
dice which counted up to a certain concealed number. The 
man who knew the game was called the ** bunco man," or 
the banker, and later when this form of swindle became 
notorious the term was corrupted into ** bunco." To-day 
the word is used to denote almost any swindle where the 
victim is made to believe he is to receive a large sum of 
money or valuables, and then gets nothing at all. 

The real Simon Pure Bunco Game, as practised in the 
United States some years ago by Tom O'Brien, the King of 
Bunco Men, was played as follows: The victim, some 
wealthy farmer usually, was lured to a room at a hotel and 
a game was proposed. A confederate took the part of 
another player. A pack of forty-eight cards in eight sets, 
each set numbered from one to six was produced, shuffled, 
and dealt out eight cards to each player. The total sum of 
the numbers in each hand was then compared with the num- 
ber carrying a prize on the chart. If it corresponded, the 
hand won the prize. 


The Right Way to Do Wrong 


The cards are 
%^::;:^-5^ W^ ^^^ gravely counted and 

compared. The dealer 
then says to the con- 
federate and dupe : 

'•Gentlemen, you 
have drawn the gran< 
conditional advertising 
prize. You're entitled[ 
to $10,000 apiece on 
condition that you 
prove yourselves worth 
$50,000, and promise 
to advertise our bat- 
tery, whether you win 
or lose. You will have 
to put up $10,000 
apiece against the 
$10,000 prize ; then 
you draw once more. If you draw a star number you get 
only the $10,000 prize and your money back. If .you draw- 
any other number you get its prize added to your own 
money and the big prize." 

The confederate says he is worth more than $50,000 and 
declares his intention of going and getting the $10,000 
stake. The dupe is also persuaded to put up the cash and 
both winners go away to get the money. They return and 
the money is put up. Four cards are dealt each. The 
total of each hand is twenty-eight. 

*« Why, gentlemen," says the bunco man in apparent sur- 
prise, "twenty-eight is the * State number,' the total blank ! 
You have lost all 1 " 

The confederate pretends to be very much broken up, 
condones with his ** fellow victim" and gets him out of the 
room as soon as he can. In a few moments he gives 
the farmer the slip, joins his partner, and they escape from 
town as quickly as possible. 

Tricks of Bunco Men 55 

Such IS the principle of the bunco game, and it is worked 
under many guises with cards^ dice, at the pool or billiard 
table — our pool-room bunco is known as ^^ selling the 
lemofiy^ as bets are made on the yellow ball — but always 
with the idea of making the victim believe he is going to 
get something for nothing. 

A variation of the bunco game, often played in the farm- 
ing districts, is for a well-dressed, plausible man to drive up 
to a well-to-do farmer's home and inquire if he knows of a 
good farm for sale. If he does, he is invited to drive with ^ 
the stranger to take a look at it and give his advice. The 
farmer finds his new acquaintance bright and entertaining. 
The property is reached and the sharper with apparent 
satisfaction inspects the land and buildings, and closes a 
bargain without much haggling. In the course of conversa- 
tion the man from the city flashes a big roll of bank notes of 
high denomination and the farmer is duly impressed. 

As they drive homeward a confederate will appear who 
stops the carriage to make some inquiry. The three enter 
into conversation and good-natured chaffing leads up to a 
proposal of some game of cards or bet. The farmer is in- 
duced to take a hand, the first swindler offering to put up his 
half of the stake. When the two ** partners " — the farmer 
and the first swindler — have won a large sum the loser asks 
for proof of their ability to make good their stake. The first 
swindler produces the cash, and the farmer drives with him 
to the next town to draw his money out of the bank to ipake 
good his claim., 

Now comes the rapid denouncement. The first swindler 
asks the farmer to oblige him by taking charge of all the 
money, including the money with, which he is to buy the 
farm, until he can return and close the bargain. The 
countryman, naturally pleased at this confidence, is induced 
to put his own money in the same convenient tin box which 
the stranger has ready. At that point the stranger and the 
farmer part. The former to parts unknown, the latter with 
his precious tin 4}ox under his arm, and when he gets home 

56 The Right Way to Do Wrong 

he finds, instead of money, that the box is 
filled only with heavy folded papers to give it 
the same weight. A rapid shift has been 
made before his eyes without his detecting 
it; his money is gone, and two adroit scoundrels are far 

Among the most famous (or infamous) bunco men of this 
country are Tom O'Brien, mentioned above, William Ray- 
mond, "Doc ** Mincheon, George Post, William Barrocks, 
Lewis Ludlow, and Clay Wilson. O'Brien is serving a life 
sentence for murder, but Post is supposed to be still at his 
old tricks. 

Jacob Sindheim, alias " Al " Wise, has a star game. His 
lay is to persuade a gullible person that he has a secret 
process by means of which genuine gold coins can be 
•* sweated '^ or robbed of a portion of their gold, by a certain 
solution, without impairing their appearance. Several times 
he has induced speculative individuals without conscience, 
to construct tanks in the basement of their houses and put 
in from $10,000 to $20,000 in gold pieces for treatment. 
Twenty days are to be required for the process. Before 
that time he removes all the gold, which is needless to say 
has lost not a grain of its weight, and makes his escape. 
The victim, after getting* tired of waiting, opens the tank to 
find a liberal deposit of paving-stones instead of gold coins. 
Then he wakes up. 

If men did not try and get something for nothing they 
might often be able to retain that which they have. 

One of the latest dodges of a bunco nature is a bogus 
express company which caters to those who never receive 
packages by express, but who want to. In a large room 
above its showy office a force of skilled workmen are em- 
ployed, manufacturing bundles and filling them with old 
bricks and newspapers. 

The express company, having made up a convincing- 
looking parcel, sends out a postal card to its prospective 
victim on which it says : 

Tricks of Bunco Men 57 

Mr. E. Z. Mark Steiner, 398 Jay Street : 
/ Please furnish us with your address, as there is a package 

addressed to you at our office. 


The fact that the express company has written to him at 
his address to ask him what his address is does not strike the 
victim as strange. The ** company" does it in order that it 
may get in writing from Mr. Steiner a request to deliver the 
package, thus making him its debtor to the extent of the 
** express charges," usually $2. 

** When I was once in danger from a tiger," said an old 
convict, <<I tried sitting down and staring at him, as I had 
no weapons." 

<* How did it work? " asked his cell mate. 

.<* Perfectly — the tiger didn't even offer to touch me.** 

** Strange. How do you account for it?" 

** Well, sometimes IVe thought it was because I sat down 
on a top branch of a very tall tree." 

Arrestep When Dead. 

A splendid funeral procession was proceeding from Hongo, 
Japan, to bury the remains of Tarofi, the head of a gambling 
den, when the police stopped the ceremony as the deceased 
was believed to be an escaped convict. The accusation was 
found to be true, and the dead man was taken to the prison 



'n '-^'"^ t'lUVti'V 

of WITS 

EN the corn-husk- 
ing is over and the 
county fairs begin 

their annual three and four-day sessions in 
a thousand agricultural centers, a silent 
army of confidence men and swindlers 
make ready for their richest harvest of the yearl The 
county fairs are rich fields for their particular work, and 
they intend to make the most of their opportunities. 

The three-shell-game man has been a feature of such 
gatherings from time immemorial. The game in some form 
or other has been played ever since Rome was founded. 
Three half walnut shells or metal covers are used and a small 
and exceedingly lively pea made of soft rubber. The gaping 
yokel is invited to pick the shell under which the " pea " 
reposes. The clever manipulator tosses it from one to 
another, then, with an apparent awkward twist, seems to throw 
it under a certain one. The rustic backs his opinion with his 
coin. The shells arc lifted. The former was mistaken and 
pays for his experience. 

It is only another case of where the manipulation of the 
hand deceives the eye. They say that a new ** sucker" is 
bom every minute. Certain it is that this old game finds 
its dupes as plentiful as in the days of our grandfathers. 
The callow youth of to-day is willing to bet his last cent that 
he can put his finger on the shell that covers the ** pea" for 
he has seen it put there I 

But if the unsuspecting countryman is an easy mark for 


The Game of Wits 


cheats at his county fairs, he is often even more ** access- 
ible " when he comes to the city. The following story copied 
entire from the New York Tclcf:^rafh is especially good on 
account of its breezy style and true-to-life description of the 
ipethods of the quick-witted gentry. The story is entitled : 

r > 

Was Kind to Strangers. 

** Oh, the shame of it, that S. G. Dabdoub of Jersey Gity 
should journey all the way from his native heath to Boston 
and there accept bad money from a stranger 1 

<< Hideous circumstance I Malicious fate I If there is a 
Mrs. Dabdoub, what will she say ? 

** Dabdoub I The very name smacks of caution, 

** But when he reached Boston and saw all the houses, 
and still was gazing upon them from his point of vantage 
at the railroad station, a stranger who had been peering 
furtively from the dense underbrush observed him. 

** After retiring behind a freight-car and throwing a 
few joyous hand-springs, as if pleased at something, the 
stranger muttered: 

**'He will do. I have not waited in vain. To-night in 
my palatial resi- 
dence there shall be 
joy and feasting and 
seeming laughter. 
Ah I it is good to 
live I ' 

*' After this mys- 
terious and ingrow- 
ing conversation, 
sometimes yclept 
monologue, the 
stranger dashed up 
to Mr. Dabdoub, of 
far Jersey, and said 
in his panting tone 



The Right Way to Do Wrong 

of a man who had gone seven furlongs 
under the spur of cruel circumstances : 
** * Can you give me change for a 
fifty dollar bill?' 

** Mr, Dabdoub could, would, and did, 
and the stranger, without stopping to 
count the money, placed a bill in the 
Jersey man's hands, expressed his thanks 
in a monosyllable, and hurried away. 

* • Horrors 1 The bill he left behind was 
a Confederate one. 

** Mr. Dabdoub, incensed, pursued, but 
the stranger wore the sevenieague boots 
of successful guilt, and it is unlikely that 
Nick Carter could have caught him. 

** Dabdoub went to the police, who 
wept with him and addressed him as if 
he had been a public meeting." 
Here is another adroit swindle that might almost be con- 
sidered better than a gold brick. 

Some time ago a young fellow with a violin under his arm 
entered a market-place in one of our large cities, made his 
purchase, and then found himself short of money. How- 
ever, he offered the fiddle as security, while he fetched the 
necessary amount of cash. Scarcely had he left the place 
when a well-dressed man entered and saw the fiddle on the 
counter. He examined it and cried out that it was a 

** Why, rU give you $300 for it," he said. 
The shopkeeper refused to sell it without consulting the 
owner, and the second stranger went away leaving five 
dollars for the refusal of the treasure. Presently, the first 
rogue returned, was informed of the offer, and said he would 
agree, providing the tradesman would give him $150 down. 
The victim complied, and neither of the swindlers ever 
returned. The fiddle was worth about $1.50. 

But don't get the idea that farmers and small shopkeepers 

fThe Game of Wits 


are the only prey of the bunco man, the swindler and the 
confidence man. A city man on a farm the first time and 
trying to run it, is of a greener green than a farmer in a city 
buying gold bricks. Here are some games successfully 
played on the dwellers in cities. 

The Clever '^Sofa Game" 

Of all the men who live by their wits, the English crook 
who conceived and carried into successful execution the 
so-called **sofa game" certainly deserves the palm. So 
ingenious, so daring, and yet so simple, is this scheme that 
it deserves a special description. The reader will notice that 
it partakes both of the nature of a confidence game and a 
first-class burglary job. 

The game requires the. cooperation of several members 
of a gang, one of whom must be a boy or a young man of 
small stature and slender physique. Sometimes a young 
woman is employed, who, if discovered, throws herself upon 
the mercy of the householder. The gang first selects the 
residence of some wealthy citizen. If inside information 
about the silver and jewels to be looted can be secured, 
so much the better. • 
The habits of the 
membersof the 
family are closely 
observed and then 
at an hour when the 
fewest possible peo- 
ple are at home the 
plan is put into 

This is what 
happens : 

A furniture wagon 
drives up to the house 
and a well-dressed ^he •-sofa trick.- 

62 The Right Way to Do Wrong 

man of respectable appearance and plausible address rings 
the front-door bell. The door is opened, the following con- 
versation ensues : 

•« Is this the residence of Mr. John Rahner ? " 
•♦Yes, but Mr. Rahner is not at home." 
« « Dear, dear, that is unfortunate 1 But, however, it does 
not matter. I have been commissioned as chairman of a 
committee of the Dearborn Lodge (naming some order to 
-which the householder actually belongs) to present Mr. , 
K^ahner with this beautiful sofa (indicating, an imposing 
piece of furniture on the wagon). Shall my men bring it in ? " 
«« Why, yes, if you are sure this is the right place." 
** No mistake about that. Madam ; Mr. Rahner is greatly 
esteemed by the members of the lodge and this gift is to be a 
complete surprise 1 " 

So in the sofa is carried and deposited in a place of honor 
in the drawing-room. The polite ** lodge member " depre- 
ciating all thanks departs and the team drives away. 

A few hours later the polite stranger reappears in hot 
haste and the wagon drives up again. He is profuse in his 
apologies, but an error has been made. 

** So unfortunate 1 So sorry to inconvenience you, but 
do you know I have made such a stupid blunder about the 
address — the sofa is to go to Brother John Rahner, of 
South Main Street, instead of North Main Street. Would it 
be too much bother to allow my men to enter and take it 
away ? We arc very anxious to deliver it before Brother 
Rahner returns, as it is a surprise for him I " 

Of course, there is nothing to be done but let the beautiful 
sofa go, and, amid the apologies and excuses of the polite 
stranger, the sofa is again carried forth to the wagon and is 
driven away. The polite stranger also disappears, and, it is 
needless to say, is seen no more in that part of the town. 

• The next act on the program is the startling discovery that 
the house has been robbed of, perhaps, many thousands of 
dollars' worth of jewels and silver. How was it done ? 
The explanation is very simple. The sofa is specially 

i^ The Game of Wits 63 

constructed with a hollow compartment of considerable size. 

Inside a girl has been concealed, who, when the sofa is left 

alone, quietly comes out and ransacks the place and retreats 

with her plunder into this convenient hiding-place. Girl, 

*. plunder, and sofa are then all carried away together and the 

' • thieves make good their escape without delay. 

• This is a new game, and, as I say, has been worked with 

many variations and usually with success in almost every 

city in England and on the continent. 


Rapp : ** I look upon you, sir, as a rascal I " 
Partkk: **You are privileged to look upon me in any 
.character you desire to assume, sir." 

**Did you ever go to a military ball?" asked a lisping 
maid of an army veteran. 

*< No, my dear," growled the old soldier, ** but once I had 
a military ball come to me, and what do you think — it took 
my arm off 1 " 






HERE are certain classes of men, and women, 
too, who, while not actually criminal, are yet 
so close to the boundary line in their practises 
as to need some special mention in this book. 
Take, for instance, the many so-called ** di- 
vine " or mental healers, who pretend to cure 
all sorts of diseases by the laying on of hands or simply 
absent treatment, or the old-style patent medicine fraud who 
retailed sweetened and colored water under some high-sound- 
ing name, as Dn So and So's Elixir and Tonic, from the 
tail-end of a cart, after having attracted a crowd of the cu- 
rious with a lecture or open-air minstrel show. 

"Far be if for me" to decry the actual healing and cura- 
tive value of many excellent proprietary medicines and 
preparations on the market to-day. But among the good 
there are many that are worthless, and I should advise my 
readers to take such ** remedies" only on the advice of their 
family physician. 

The fake ** doctor" is still with us, and his advertisements 
are often to be seen in the newspapers of America. They 
usually advertise under some honest-sounding name, and 
assume all the titles and learned degrees of two continents. 
Some are actually physicians, and, failing in the regular 
practise, have set out to make a living by deluding suffering 
humanity. It would be amusing, if it were not sorrowful, to 
see the crowds of patients who bring their ailments to such 
«* doctors.^ The game is to give the sufferer some relief at 


Fakel Fakel Fake! 


first, in order to encourage him, and then prolong his case 
through many weary weeks and months, until they have 
gotten all the money he can afford to spend. Such doctors 
usually call themselves ** specialists," but their real specialty 
is in exhorting money from their dupes, and my advice is to 
keep as far away from them as possible. 

Thanks to the energetic efforts of the authorities many, if 
not all, of these practitioners have been driven out, and it is 
to be hoped that such tragedies as that unearthed in the 
Susan Geary case will be rare in the future. 

The case of Francis Truth, alias Will Bemis, the self- 
styled Divine Healer, attracted no little attention through- 
out the East, especially in Boston, a few years ago. The 
man was a handsome, plaus- 
ible, smooth-spoken man, 
who claimed to have some 
mysterious mesmeric power 
by which he could cure any 
disease, simply by the lay- 
-ing on of hands. His ad- 
vertisements bristled with 
testimonials and brilliant 
promises, and he did a 
good business among the 
credulous . Many, who 
doubtless had nothing what- 
ever the matter with them, 
were hypnotized into the 
belief that they were cured. 

Finally, Truth — or Be- 
mis — found his money get- 
ting limited, because he 
could only ** treat" a limited 
number a day. Then he 
had recourse to the absent- 
treatment dodge. He would 
tell his patients that he tkb fakx hbalu 

66 The Right Way to Do Wrong 

'would give them an absent treatment at a certain hour, 
and at that time they were to retire to their rooms and 
think of him, and they would receive the healing influ- 
ence I As the number of his dupes grew, he branched into 
a mail-order feature, until hundreds and thousands of people 
"who had never seen the ** healer" were sending him money 
by mail. He received hundreds of letters each day, until 
the post-office was forced to deliver them in great bags, 
and his income amounted to thousands of dollars a week I 
Truth lived in great style, drove about in his own carriage, 
had quite an office force of stenographers and clerks to 
handle the mail, and was getting rich, hand over fist, when 
the post-office authorities and the police put an end to his 

Advertising* mediums, clairvoyants, and astrologers have 
hosts of dupes, and some invite the methods of the confidence 
man, with mystical advice and fortune-telling. Not long 

ago, a certain Miss Ethel L , of Maiden, Mass., visited a 

so-called medium in Boston. As soon as she entered his 
inner sanctum she was surprised to have him caution her 
about a large sum of money which she was carrying. This 
<* occult'' knowledge so inspired her confidence, that she 
asked his advice about a suit she was interested in. He 
told her he would have to put her in a trance, which he did. 
When she came out of it, he cautioned her to go directly 
home, and to Aold herjtngers crossed until she reached her 
own room, where she must remain for two days. It was 
actually some hours before she realized that she had been 
robbed of $i,ooo which she had in her pocket 1 Of course, 
the medium had disappeared 1 

I must say that with all its boasted culture and learning, 
Boston seems to be a favorite city for all sorts of schemes of 
this kind ; astrologers, mediums, clairvoyants, test-mediums, 
and the like abound in the Hub as in few other places it has 
been my good fortune to visit, and I have been all over the 
world. Chicago also has its share. 

New Yorkers pride themselves in believing in nothing at 


Fake I Fake I Fakel 


all, and yet it was 
only a short time 
ago that a man 
named Ridgley, 
and calling him- 
self the East In- 
, d i a n Mystery, 
victimized many 
people of wealth 
and fashion in 
that metropolis. 
. This remarkable 
person combined • 
the fakir of the 
East with the 
modern magnetic 
healer and the 
Voodo doctor of 
French Louisiana. The man himself is 70 years old. He 
^is small, spry, alert, and wonderfully shrewd. His beard is 
bushy and black, except where age has whitened the edges, 
and grows thick and curly at the sides. The nose is as flat 
as a negro's. He denies negro blood, however, and abhors 
the race. He claim3 to be from Hindoostan, and talks to 
others in the house in a strange tongue. 

The eyes of the man are small, shrewd, and dark. The 
forehead, from each side of which grows gray, bushy hair 
that hides the ears, is high, receding, and intelligent. 

** I kne\y you were coming," says this wizard-like man, 
** and I determined to receive you though warned against 
you. Now you want to know what I am, what I do. Let us 
be honest with each other." ^ . . 

He chooses big words as he proceeds to describe himself. 
They are used aptly, but mispronounced. The **th" be- 
comes ** d," and there are other things not unfamiliar in the 
Southern negro. The East Indian proceeds to read your 
character and to tell you of your life. He does it well. 


68 The Right Way to Do Wrong 

**I am not a fortune-teller," he explains* ** They are 
frauds,^ and I am a physiognomist. I read from the apex of 
the nose to the top of the forehead. I don't predict ; I tell 
you ; and I don't ask you to say if I am right or wrong." 

It is said that among this man's patrons have been men 
and women whose names are a part of the life of New York. 

It is also said that a recent marriage which astonished New 
York society came after the woman in the case had con- 
sulted this strange combination of charlatan and physician. 
She confided to him her desire, told him of her repeated 
failures to secure her wish, took the treatment, and in three 
months was married. Then followed, so the story goes, 
many presents, among them a tenement to the East Indian. 

Spiritualism has many followers, and at one time I was 
almost a believer, but this was before I made a thorough in- 
vestigation, which I have followed up even to the present 
day. I have never seen a materialization or a manifestation 
which I cannot fully explain. Of course, I cannot explain 
those that I <<hear" about, as no two people see the same 
one thing alike. 

Spiritualism is really a beautiful belief for those that are 
honest and believe in it ; but as I have visited the greatest 
spiritualistic meetings in the world, I am sorry to say that no 
one has ever produced anything for me that would smack of 
the spiritual. 

In Germany, spirit mediums are put in jail for obtaining 
money under false pretences. In England, Maskenlyne, of 
Maskenlyne & Cook, has done a great deal to keep the so- 
called fraud spiritualistic mediums out of England. In the 
future, I contemplate writing a book on spiritualistic methods, 
and how they do their tricks. I do not mean genuine spiritual- 
ists who have no tricks, but those mediums who use their 
knowledge of magic to gain a living. 

The Davenport Brothers, during their short but strenuous 
career, had a terrible time of it in their journeys abroad. 
They were driven out of England, but they made enough 
money to last them the rest of their lives. 


J* o 



^' IH^'l' 





'4'^y^r\ TEVER believe that a so-called antique piece 
'■^)}' \ I ^^ furniture or a painting by one of the old 
j f^f iVi masters is genuine until its authenticity has 
p^t\ \^ been proven beyond a possible doubt. That is 
^s?^! my advice, and if you, reader, could see some 
of the impositions practised upon wealthy 
collectors and curio hunters, you, too, 
would take that view. 

The people who purchase this class of goods are usually 
new-made millionaires, ambitious to own an art gallery of old 
mafltcrs. It would ^ivc them little satisfaction to know that 
some of their priceless treasures are simply copies, and often 
poor ones at that. M. Felix Duquesnel, of Paris, famous as 
an art critic, says that certain galleries of ancient masters 
contain few pictures more than ten years old. Forged 
pictures are regularly included in sales of private collections 
in which they never belonged. Nor is a written and duly 
attested pedigree of the least value. I know of one case in 
London where a dealer in fake antiques sought out an 
impoverished nobleman whose only property besides his title 
was an ancient manor house that was heavily mortgaged. 
The house was in a remote spot and had scarcely a stick of 
furniture left in it. The dealer bought it and sent out to it 
many vanloads of paintings, black oak furniture, arms, 
armour, moth-eaten tapestry, etc. In a few weeks he' 
announced a sale of art treasures at the ancient home of the 
last of an ancient race. The sale actually lasted several 




The Right Way to Do Wrong 

weeks as though the very 
cellars bad been packed 
with **art treasures." 

On the continent, to my 
certain knowledge, the case 
is even worse. One man 
that began life as a sculp- 
ture's assistant, but soon 
began the manufacture of 
imitations of ** ancient" 
statues and ** antique" fur- 
niture and now makes about 
$7,500 a year and employs 
several workmen. 

His masterpieces are cer- 
tain Greek heads ** attributed 
to Phidias," but he also makes 
eighteenth century and Em- 
pire furniture. The opinion 
of such an authority is valu- 
able. He says : 
** You can take it as a fact that even an art expert can no 
longer, tell if a piece of furniture is a forgery. At least, yes, 
he can tell if he takes the furniture to pieces. But few will 
dare incur that responsibility because you spoil the piece." 

This cultivator of the artistic sense talks to his friends of 
one of the best-known Paris collectors, who bought at an 
enormous price an ** eighteenth century" writing desk: 

** He purchased with a written guarantee from a respect- 
able dealer, who was in good faith. Well, this table comes 
from my own workroom, only if I told the owner he 
probably would not believe me." 

A dealer who lives not far from the church of the Madeline 
in Paris keeps the choicest ** fakes" in his bedroom. He 
never shows his private collection, as he calls it, until the 
wealthy amateur tearfully begs to see it. The gem of the 
collection is the dealer's own bed in Louis XVI. style. 


Bogus Treasures 



He has sold his bed five or 
six times, but still sleeps well, 
I suppose because he ** lies 
so easy," like a most honor- 
able Frenchman. 

At this moment, eighteenth- 
century engravings, including 
colored prints, are counter- 
feited on a vast scale. 

Jewelry is made to look 
old by steeping in sulphuric 
acid for silver, or agua regia 
for gold. The surface is 
worn with ground brick. The 
stones are then inserted and 
the whole is greased with 
'tallow and rubbed in white 

Greek and Roman jewels. 
Renaissance enamels, Epis- 
copal rings, and Benvenuto 
Cellini plate are "made in 

Vienna is specialized in 
counterfeiting sixteenth- 
century enamels. 

Abbeville and Armiens make 
for museums of geology. 

Old pewters are manufactured 
comes from Leeds. 

In Holland, I met a student 
could forge any of the old 


flint arrow-tops and hatchets 

at Roden. Etruscan pottery 

who was in demand as^he 
masters' signatures on oil 

•• * 



^ OR years it has been a constant wonder to me 
how bare-faced swindling operations are carried 
on in almost open defiance of the laws of the 
land. There are a thousand-and-one-get-rich- 
quick schemes that each find their victims ; it is 
needless to say that they bring wealth only to the 
promoter. There are more ways of swindling 
than with loaded dice and gold bricks. 

Stock is sold in mining property where neither gold or 
silver ever existed, and the only metal about the proposition 

is the brazen cheek of the or- 
ganizer of the company. Great 
promises of dividends are 
made, which are sometimes 
even paid out of the money 
received from the sale of the 
stock. Oil wells, gold mines, 
silver mines, and copper mines 
are exploited in this way to 
the great profit of the exploiter. 
A species of swindle that has 
been perpetrated times without 
number all over this country is 
the old gold-brick game. It 
does seem as though this had 
been exposed so frequently 
that the most ignorant country- 



Famous Swindles 


man would know enough to keep away from any one who of- 
fers to sell an ingot or ** brick" of pure gold at a sacrifice ; but 
still there are pigeons to be plucked. The usual method is to 
meet a likely person and with great show of secrecy unfold the 
story of the poor Mexican miner who has a lump of pure gold 
valued at $5,000, which he will sell for $500 do>ynI The. 
pigeon comes fluttering, drawn by the tempting bait ; meets 
the miner, sees the glittering brick, handles it, even tests it with 
acid, and, finally, is induced to put down his good money. 
With great show of secrecy and caution the brick is handled 
over and the victim departs only to learn later that "all is 
not gold that glitters " and that he is out his $500 1 

Much ingenuity is exercised in fixing up the ** brick ** so 
it will stand inspection. Sometimes even wedges of good 
gold are inserted in the cheap metal, and the operator saws 
or files into this wedge to take out gold for the victim to test. 
In these enlightened days, I do not need to tell you that all 
such stories, no matter how plausible, should be questioned 
and rejected at 

The green- 
goods swindle 
is an elaborate 
game which 
begins with 
some very 
adroit corre- 
spondence in 
whi ch the 
writer claims to 
be in possession 
of some old and 
discarded steel 
plates used in 
printing United 
States money, 
and for that **fakx" test of gold buck 

74 The Right Way to Do Wrong 

reason he is able to produce actual greenbacks which will 
pass anywhere. The letter usually begins something like 

Dear Sir: — I am in possession of a good thing and with 
your confidential and friendly cooperation I can make you 
independently rich and at the same time better my own con- 
dition. . . . You will see that my goods are not what the 
law can class as real counterfeits, inasmuch as they are 
printed from genuine plates and can easily be passed in your 
section of the country. 

The letter goes on to explain the necessity of a personal 
interview, offers to guarantee travelling expenses, and quotes 
prices usually as follows: $300 real money buys $3,000; 
$1,000 buys $30,000, etc. The pigeon is given a password 
and tiumber with which he must sign all telegrams. Finally, 
not to go into too many details, the green goods operator and 
the victim meet with great secrecy — a package of real 
money is produced for inspection, the purchase money is paid 
over, and the package which has been deftly exchanged for 
another package containing worthless paper is given to the 
purchaser, who departs to learn his loss as soon as he opens 
his «* bundle." 

Of course, there is no redress possible. The whole game 
is a swindle. Never but once to the best of my knowledge 
have actual original plates been stolen from the government, 
and that was when Langdon W. Moore was able to use his 
influence with a gang of counterfeiters and secure the return 
of the 5~20 bond plate in the early 8o's as described in 
Chapter XV. of his autobiography. Even if the plates were 
stolen as the green goods man pretends, the bills printed 
from them by unauthorized persons would be counterfeit in 
the eyes of the law. 

Keep just as far away from any such scheme as you can. 



« e 


►^ The FAIR 


HERE have arisen in 

every country, and in 

every age, celebrated 

women criminals whose 

daring deeds have become part of history. 

From Lucrezia Borgia of the fifteenth century 

to Cassie Chadwick of the present day, the list 
is a long one, and yet police officials and prosecuting officers 
will no doubt agree with me, whenl say that there are vastly 
fewer women criminals than men who lead dishonest lives. 

The truth seems to be that when lovely woman stoops to 
crime, she usually goes to the greatest lengths of iniquity, 
and the comparatively few women who have perpetrated 
great crimes are made more conspicuous and more talked 
about by reason of their sex. In the United States, authori- 
ties claim that only one-tenth of persons accused of crime are 
women; while in France, Statistician Tarde declares that 
one-sixth is the usual proportion. Women criminals are 
certain to end their careers in wretchedness, if not in prison. 
Mothers of wayward girls are often much to blame for the 
beginning of careers of vice. A good home is the best pro- 
tection, and upon every fair reader I urge the wisdom not 
only of choosing for herself the better way, but of safe- 
guarding her sisters everywhere. 

** Sophie" Lyons may be taken as a typical case of a bom 
woman criminal. She came of a race of criminals. Her 
grandfather was a noted burglar in England, her father and 



The Right Way to Do Wrong 

mother, who came to America before she was born, both 
had a criminal record. She was taught to steal as soon 
as she could walk, and at twelve was arrested for shoplift- 
ing. At sixteen she w^s married to Maury Harris, a pick- 
|>ocket, but her husband was sentenced to two years in State 
prison before the honeymoon was over. Later she married 
••Ned" Lyons, the noted burglar, and became one of the 
most expert female pickpockets in the country. 

«« Sophie " Lyons was a beautiful girl with brilliant dark 
eyes, abundant auburn hair, and a fascinating manner. At 
the county fairs she would make the acquaintance of men of 
wealth, and deftly relieve them of their watch or roll of bank- 
notes, while they were fascinated with her blandishments. 
If caught, she was a consummate actress, and could counter- 
feit every shade of emotion. Real tears of injured innocence 
would flow from her beautiful eyes. Lyons pulled off a big 
coup about two years after their marriage, bought a villa on 
Long Island with the proceeds, and, though a professional 

burglar himself, tried 
to keep his wife 
from stealing. The 
taint was too strong, 
however ; she picked 
pockets for the love 
of it Eventually, 
both husband and 
wife were sentenced 
to Sing Sing Prison, 
from which they 
make a sensational 
escape and got away 
to Paris. In France, 
under the name of 
Madame d* Varney, 
she continued her 
brilliant career of 


crime. Sophie 

The Fair Criminal 


Lyons is supposed to be at large at the present time — some- 
where in America. She has one son serving a term in 
State prison, and two daughters who are being carefully 
educated in Germany, kept as far as possible in ignorance 
of their mother's actual character. 

The career of Cassie Chad wick, the ** Duchess of Dia- 
monds " is of more recent date. She is a woman of about 
fifty years of age, and has neither great physical beauty or 
great personal charm, yet she must have had wonderful 
powers of persuasion, for she victimized such men as 
Andrew Carnegie, and made Banker Ira Reynolds believe 
she was an illegitimate child of the Scotch millionaire. With 
him she deposited a bundle of securities alleged to be worth 
$5,000,000 and a note for half a million dollars bearing 
Carnegie's signature. A signed paper from Reynolds at- 
testing the fact that he held $5,000,000 worth of securities in 
trust for her became her stock in 
trade, and she fleeced bankers and 
business men to the tune of one mil- 
lion dollars in money, tand $150,000 
worth of jewels in four years. In 
March, 1905, she was convicted, 
and is now serving a ten-year sen- 
tence in the Ohio State penitentiary. 
Thanksgiving, 1905, during my en- 
gagement at Keith's Theatre, I gave 
a performance for the prisoners in the 
county jail in Cleveland, and Mrs. 
Chadwick was to be entertained in 
her cell ; but fifteen minutes before 
I was to show her a few conjuring 
tricks, she changed her mood, gave 
the jailer an argument, and refused 
to allow any one near her cell. 

Of the army of women shop- 
lifters, petty thieves, stool-pigeons 
for confidence men^ etc., little need 

'"**.. y 

78 The Right Way to Do Wrong 

be said. Shoplifting seems to be the most common crime. 
Many women steal for mere wantonness, having no need 
of the articles or money. Kleptomania is a polite word for 
this offense, and, doubtless, there are cases of mental dis- 
order and moral degeneracy which takes this form. 

The time-worn badger game, as it is called, is still fre- 
quently employed to fleece men. The confidence woman 
gets acquainted with some man of means, preferably a mar- 
ried man of family, and invites him to call at her apartments. 
She carries on her part of the flirtation to ^^ perfection " 
till suddenly the doorbell rings, and in apparent fright she 
exclaims: *< There comes my husband. He is furiously 
jealous and will kill you 1 " 

The fictitious husband rushes in, a scene takes place, and 
the ^'husband" threatens to shoot or call in the police. 
Eventually, the matter is settled by the victim giving up a 
large sum of money rather than face a scandal. This is 
only one form of blackmail resorted to, to extort money, 
as the victim is often threatened with public expose, etc. 
Pirates in petticoats frequently ply their trade on ocean 
and lake steamers. They are well-dressed and ingratiate 
themselves with the passengers of both sexes, watching their 
opportunity to steal jewelry, or practise their threadbare 
confidence games. 

A woman named Grace Mordaunt cleared many thousands 
of dollars in New York by occasionally advertising the fol- 
lowing personal in the Herald: ** Young widow, financially 
embarrassed wishes loan of $ioo on a diamond ring worth 
twice as much. Address Box ." 

Miss Mordaunt was beautiful and fascinating. She would 
produce a genuine diamond ring, and go with her victim to 
a jeweler to have it priced. At his office she would receive 
her money, and ask him with tears not to wear or show her 
ring for a few days, but lock it up in his safe. She then 
takes the ring, wraps it up in tissue paper, puts it in an 
envelope, and hands it sealed to the victim, and leaves, prom- 
ising to repay the money with interest in a few days. She 


The Fair Criminal 79 

never returns, and at length the victim opens the envelope to 
find a brass ring with a glass diamond worth about 25 cents. 
While in Austria some years ago, I heard of a most re- 
markable adventuress who went under the name of Madame 
Clarice B Her particular form of swindle was to get 

acquainted with young men of good family and wealth, 
and entangle them in her meshes, and get declarations of 
marriage from them. She would get all she could out of 
her poor dupe, and then notify the family of the **engage- 

^ ment." The young man's parents would then be forced to 

buy her off with a large sum of money, when she would go 
to pastures new. But Madame Clarice met her Waterloo in 
Vienna. There she met an American student upon whom 
she. worked her wiles even to the extent of going through a 
marriage ceremony with him. After a time she left him and 
went to Paris, but the adventuress who had broken so many 
hearts found her own touched at last. She was actually in 
love with her student husband whose face haunted her 
dreams. After a few days 'she returned to Vienna, sought 

4 him out, and confessed all, but through herself on his mercy 

and love. The denouncement, unusual in such cases, was 
that the couple were actually married, and to-day are living 
happily on the continent. 

Many, many more incidents migjit be related of the clever 
work of the f acinating woman criminal, but these should be 
sufficient to warn the unwary against trusting either their 
honor or their pocketbook to an unknown woman no matter 
how beautiful. 

*' V tp tp 

Teacher (instructing prisoner class on manners) : " Now, 
^ Willie Brown, for example, if you were sitting in an electric 

car, every seat occupied, and an old lady enters, what would 
you do?" 

Tommy: ** Please, sir, I would pretend I was sleepin'. 




The "BRACE" 

F all classes of criminals the professional 
gambler has probably played the most con- 
spicuous part in fiction and melodrama. We 
all know the stage gambler, while the penny 
dreadful novels and story-books are too 
often filled with descriptions of this kind of 
crime. The gambler of the stage and in 
the novel is but an exaggerated portrait of this type. 

Gambling is the playing for money of games depending 
solely on chance, like roulette; or games of skill and 
chance like poker and other card games or billiards and the 
like. A gentleman may have the moral right to back his 
own opinion in a wager with money, and with true sports- 
man instinct stand success or defeat. Even a small stake at 
cards is dangerous, for it cultivates the habit of gambling, 
which may soon become a passion. 

Gambling in itself is bad enough even when the game 
is square; but your professional gambler never plays the 
game that way. He is an expert with cards. His seem- 
ingly innocent shufile of the pack gives him a full knowledge 
of where every card is located. He deals you a hand good 
enough to induce you to make dangerously high bets, but not 
high enough to win. He lures his victim by small winnings 
to destruction in the end. He uses cards so cleverly marked 
on the back that he can read the values of your hand as well 
as if he were looking over your shoulder, and govern his 
play accordingly. In faro and roulette he uses mechanical 
devices for controlling absolutely the winning numbers, 

The «« Brace " Game 8i 

and so cheats his victim from beginning to end. When a 

gambler employs a fraudulent deck of cards or a cheating- 

roulette wheel or faro-box it is called a "brace** game. 

No novice can go up against a brace game 

with any hope of winning; he must lose. 

Even if the game were on the square the 

victim will invariably lose in the long run, 

for the percentage of chance is against him. ^ ..brace" spindle 

If the exposures, which I feel at liberty to 

make in this chapter, may warn the unwary and deter the 

youth of this land from the fascinations of the green cloth, 

I shall feel that my efforts have not been in vain. 

Marked cards employed by gamblers are specially en- 
graved packs of cards in which the usual decoration design 
of scrolls and flowers on the back, instead of being exactly 
identical on the fifty-two cards, is varied slightly for each 
of the high cards. This would not be noticed and cannot 
be detected without close examinatioti, but it renders the 
back of the cards as legible to the gambler as the face. The 
turn of a leaf in the scroll work may mean that that card is 
the ace of diamonds, while a slightly different turn may 
mean the ace of hearts and so on. 

With such a pack of cards the gambler has the poor 
dupe at his mercy. ** Long cards" and strippers, as they 
are called, are special packs in which the high cards are 
slightly different in shape and width, enabling the gambler, 
for instance, with a single motion to take three of the aces 
out of a pack. 

The hold out, as it is called, is a mechanical contrivance 
used for holding a card fraudulently withdrawn from the 
pack until it is wanted. The hold out, illustrated in this 
chapter, I purchased from a notorious gambler who has now 
retired, and perfected it for use in certain card tricks. I 
have found, however, that certain professional gamblers 
have got hold of it, and I shall therefore expose its opera- 
tions so that the unwary may be warned. The machine is 
adjusted to the arm inside the coat sleeve. The mechanism is 


The Right Way to Do Wrong 



worked by a band passing 
around the chest. By tak- 
ing a long breath the ma- 
chine is made to move 
and pushes its mechanical 
fingers down inside the 
sleeve to the hand. As 
the breath is exhaled the 
••fingers" go back in the 
sleeve, taking with them 
the card or cards the 
gambler wishes to hold out. The same operation causes the 
cards to be returned to the hand. It is as though the gamb- 
ler were gifted with a third and invisible arm and hand ; it 
cannot be detected in operation. 

Other hold outs are attached under the table. One called 
the "Goose neck" is brazenly advertised in a certain cata- 
logue I have on my desk as I write, and the price is $15. 
This, I quote from the catalogue, ** is worked by the knee 
or foot, making the cards come up over the edges of the 
table into the hand." A *• vest hold out" is made and sold, 
vest and all, for $30; and a new •• cold deck" hold out for 
substituting an entirely different pack of cards which has 
been previously stacked for $35. Concerning this latter 
contrivance, the manufacturer says: ''Made to hold a full 
deck. Cards can be arranged to suit you, and when oppor- 
tunity presents itself make the switch and you can clean up 
everything in sight." 

A mere list of the fraudulent contrivances for cheating 
at gambling should be sufficient to prevent any honest man 
from ever going up against a gambler's game. The Lucus 
spindle, as it is called, is apparently a very simple contriv- 
ance which the novice thinks must cer- 
tainly be on the square. As a matter of 
fact, it is fraudulent and made with that 
intention. Its makers claim that it can the " squkkzk " 
actually be handed to an officer for exami- spindle 

The «« Brace'* Game 


I "'V^'iA 




nation without detection. The old «« Sim- 
plicity Squeeze Spindle** works on a 
different principle, but is just as effective. 
It is under control of the gambler and can 
be stopped on whatever figure will win him 
the most money. The ** High Man Wins" 
arrow is for use in barrooms and is a 
brace game, the house being a large 

One of the most malicious little devices 
I have ever run across is sometimes called a vest-pock rou- 
lette wheel. It would seem that this must be square and that 
the player would have even a greater chance to win than on 
an ordinary wheel because there is only one zero. . As a 
matter of fact, however, it is a fraud pure and simple, as the 
mechanism is so arranged that the pointer will stop on zero 
three times when it will stop on any other number once I So 
beware of the man with a little Monte Carlo in his pocket. 

Among other things used by professional gamblers to 
cheat with are loaded dice which may be bought or made 
to order ; adhesive palming cloth for palming Cards, chips, 
dice, etc. ; adhesive dice which almost defy detection ; 
shaped dice which are not exact cubes; *• brace" dice 
boxes; magnifying mirrors set in rings; shading lx>xes 
made to sew on inside of coat and used to shade or mark 
cards while the game is in progress; marked decks of 
cards, ring hold outs, bouncers for roulette wheels, cement 
for plugging dice, silver amalgam for 
loading dice, ••brace" faro boxes, etc., etc. 
With such an equipment, united with 
years of experience and skill, what chance 
has any law-abiding citizen against the pro- 
fessional gambler? The reader does not 
need my secret of escaping from hand- 
cuffs to shake off the shackles of this 
alluring siren gambling. pockkt roulxttx 



NDER this heading I shall group such crimes 
as counterfeiting and the kindred crimes of 
forgery and raising notes, as well as smuggling. 
It is a serious matter to get into trouble with the 
Federal government. The criminal is pursued 
relentlessly, and the sentence when conviction 
follows the almost certain arrest is always a 
heavy one. For these reasons such crimes are usually 
attempted only by the boldest and most skilful criminals or 
by those whose positions of trust in government employ afford 
them special opportunities. 

The three great crimes against any government (aside, of 
course, from actual 
treason) are coun- 
terfeiting its money, 
either gold, silver, or 
bills ; evading its 
custom laws, or 
smuggling. Coun- 
terfeiting, which 
offers enormous re- 
wards if successful, 
is frequently at- 
tempted — indeed, 
scarcely a month 
passes that does not 
see the appearance 
of some new and thk fokgsr at work 

Cheating Uncle Sam 




dangerous counterfeit of some United States bill. Notice is . 
at once sent to all the banks by the authorities and often 
published in the newspapers, so that the public at large may 
be warned against the spurious bill in circulation. 

Many years ago, when the art of engraving and plate 
making was in its infancy, the paper money in circulation 
was much more crude than to-day. Then it was compara- 
tively easy for the counterfeiter to engrave just as good a 
bill as the government could produce ; but now the matter is 
much more difficult, owing to the delicate and intricate work 
of the lathe and tool work and the special fibre paper upon 
which it is printed. The conditions of caution surrounding 
the government printing works make it almost impossible for 
an original plate to be stolen. The paper is made especially 
for this purpose and under strictest government supervision. 
In designing, lettering, and engraving the 
bills only artists of the foremost professional 
standing are employed. Every banknote 
or greenback is truly a work of art, so that 
an exact counterfeit — one that will deceive 
even an ordinary business man accustomed 
to handle money — is each year more and 
more difficult to produce. 

The counterfeits of silver and gold 
coins are mostly of two kinds — either 
moulded or stamped with a die. The die- 
made counterfeits are usually much more 
difficult to detect if the metal employed 
has anywhere near the right weight, ring, 
and color. Electroplating is employed by 
counterfeiters with some success; one 
dangerous counterfeit now in circulation is 
a compound of antimony and lead heavily 
electroplated with silver. In this way the 
gold ten-dollar piece of 1858 and the gold 
five-dollar pieces of 1847, 1848, 1862, and 
1869 have been counterfeited with a platinum 

86 The Right Way to Do Wrong 

coin heavily gold plated. The most successful and, there- 
fore, the most dangerous of all counterfeits are those 
composed of actual gold and silver but with a mixture of 
metal. The actual value of the gold in the counterfeit five- 
dollar gold pieces dated 1881 and 1882 has been determined 
by assay to be $4.43. 

Genuine gold and silver coins are often tampered with. 
These schemes are known as "sweating," "plugging," and 
** filling." For instance, a hundred gold ten-dollar pieces 
subject to an acid bath would lose' perhaps $35 or $40 worth 
of their gold and remain unchanged in appearance. The 
coins are put in circulation again, and the gold which has 
been ** sweated " off of them is easily extracted from the acid 
bath and sold. Coins are also robbed of precious metal by 
drilling a hole, the cavity being filled with an alloy and the 
filling covered with a light gold wash. Filling a coin is 
sawing it through the edge in two parts, scraping out the 
gold, and putting the two parts together again filled with some 
baser metal. Thomas Ballard was the first counterfeiter to 
successfully reproduce government fibre paper, which he did 
in 1870. The next year he and his gang were captured, but 
escaped from jail and found a hiding-place from which they 
continued to issue dangerous counterfeits. In 1873 his 
counterfeit $500 treasury note alarmed banks and government 
ofiicials. Ballard was finally captured in his lair in Buffalo 
just as he was about to produce a counterfeit $5 bill of a 
Canadian bank. This bill, he boasted, was to have corrupted 
all Canada. 

John Peter McCartney was the counterfeiter who success- 
fully removed all the ink from genuine $1 bills so that he 
could secure government paper on which to print counterfeit 
bills of much higher denomination. He made a fortune, so 
it is said, but was brought to book at last. 

To a counterfeiter named *• One-eyed Thompson " is given 
the credit of being the first to transform bills of small denom- 
ination to larger by cutting and pasting. He also had an 
ingenious trick of cutting up $10 or $100 bills into strips and 

Cheating Uncle Sam 87 

making eleven counterfeit bills of the 
same denomination. 

A German by the name of Charles 
Ulrich won the distinction of having 
produced the most dangerous Bank of 

j England notes ever made. 

• Langdon W. Moore, one time expert 
bank robber, forger, and counterfeiter, 

• who has now reformed and is leading 

► an honest life, has written an interesting autobiography in 

which he tells of his own experience in raising notes, counter- 
feiting, and getting the counterfeits in circulation. At one 
time another gang of counterfeiters declared war on him. 
He sent a spy into the enemy's' camp, learned where they 
were going to put out their next batch of ** queer," and then 

,i^ proceeded to carry out a plan for outwitting them. 

Postage stamp counterfeits are common enough, but mostly 
1 practised to impose on the collectors of rare stamps: for 

instance, a certain issue of Hawaiian stamps are very valu- 
. able as there are not supposed to be more than half a dozen 
or so in existence, and when one is found it sells for thousands 
of dollars. One of the most daring stamp counterfeiters 
** planted " about twenty forgeries of this rare stamp into 
collections of wealthy philatelists and realized many thousands 
of dollars. 

Another daring gang introduced a beautifully-engraved 
stamp into Paris by posing as the "King of Sodang" and 
suite — Sodang being an island that existed solely in the 
imagination of the clever swindler. A stamp dealer was the 
principal victim and paid the ''king" a large sum of money 
for a number of the stamps of this fictitious kingdom. 

Speaking of stamps recalls a method, of secret writing 
which defied detection. The plan was to put a fake letter 
inside the envelope, but to write the real message in micro- 
scopic characters in the upper right-hand comer, and over 
this paste the stamp. The correspondent, who was, of 
course, in the secret, would simply soak off the stamp. 


The Right Way to Do Wrong 




This trick is often 
made use of by con- 
victs who wish to send 
a secret message to 
their friends on the 

Cancelled postage 
stamps are frequently 
washed and sold^ or 
used again. I have in 
my possession a receipt 
given me by a Russian 
convict which will do 
this perfectly, removing every trace of the cancellation mark, 
but leaving the stamp perfect. Such a secret is too dan- 
gerous, however, for general publication. 

On the continent I have known of a clever dodge being 
practised which reaches the same result. Before the letter 
is mailed the stamp is covered with a transparent paste. 
When the letter is received the correspondent can simply 
wash off the stamp with water, and, of course, the cancella- 
tion marks with it. The penalty for this crime is so severe, 
and the reward so small, that not even hardened criminals 
are willing to risk the attempt. 

A clever gang of smugglers adopted this ruse in order to 
get their trunks through the custom-house free. They had 
counterfeit labels made, such as an inspector places upon a 
trunk. Passing among the trunks where the inspectors 
were at work they would slyly poke the ** inspected" label 
on all their own trunks. Each official seeing the labels 
would suppose some other official had actually inspected the 
trunks and so would pass on to others. 

' Instances might be multiplied, but all goes to show that 
dishonesty, whether to your fellowmen or to the government, 
is the worst of all policies in the end. 



SHOT Eighteen 

HUMBUG or a hoax is often comparatively 
harmless in its nature — more in the way of 
a high practical joke upon the public. Long 
ago P. T. Barnum, the great American show- 
man, declared : ** The American people want 
to be humbugged." I believe he was right 
and certainly his great success in the show 
business would seem to point to the same conclusion. In 
my own particular work I find there is so much that is mar- 
vellous and wonderful that can be accomplished by perfectly 
natural means that I have no need to find recourse to hum- 
bugging the public. In my case, at least, truth is stranger 
than fiction. 

At the present day a firm in New York makes a business 
of manufacturing fakes like double-bodied babies, mermaids, 
and fake mummies. Dr. L. D. Weiss, of New York, dis- 
covered that he could detect a fake mummy from an original 
by placing it under his X-Ray machine. 

Another clever hoax which created much amusement at 
the time was contrived by some English students years ago 
and perpetrated at a county fair. On a vacant lot near the 
fair a large tent was erected and a huge placard announced 
that** The Great Wusser'* was on exhibition within — ad- 
mission free I It was supposed, that some payment or pur- 
chase would be required inside, but it was not so. The 
crowd, eager for free amusement, was formed into a long 
** queue," and the people — admitted only one at a time— . 



The Right Way to Do Wrong 



were escorted through a 
maze of hurdles into a 
darkened compartment of 
the tent before a curtain. 
There they were entreated 
not to irritate or disturb the 
** animal " in any way, and 
the curtain went up, dis- 
closing a sorry and spav- 
ined looking donkey. 
** This is the great Wusser," explained the showman. 
And when the bewildered spectator asked what it meant, he 
was told that, ** though you may have seen as bad a donkey, 
you certainly never saw a wusser 1 " Then, when the victim 
of the hoax became indignant, he was besought to ** keep it 
quiet " and take his revenge by allowing the remainder of 
the crowd to be hoaxed. This request showed a deep knowl- 
edge of human nature, for the victim always complied, and 
many went among the crowd and spread the most astonish- 
ing accounts of the •• Great Wusser," and waited to see their 
comrades taken in. Eventually, however, rioting arose, and 
the jesters, being arrested for creating a disturbance, had to 
pay over $ioo in fines and damages. 

But humbugs are not all so harmless. An adroit rascal 
was caught not long ago in London who was posing as an 
American bishop. He was certainly a great humbug, for 
he looked the part of the ** bishop " to perfection. It seems 
that he called in his carriage, mind you, at a well-known 
jewelers and asked to see some bracelets, mentioning that he 
was returning to America and wished to take a present to his 
wife. *• Nothing very expensive," he said — ** I could i^ot 
afford that — but something about seventy or eighty pounds." 
Eventually, he agreed to take a bracelet that cost one hun- 
dred pounds. He said he would pay for it with a hundred 
pound note which he had with him. It was the only money 
he had with him at the moment, but he would wait while 
they sent it to the bank to ascertain that it was all right. He 




should really prefer doing this. They sent it to the bank and 
received answer that it was perfectly correct. 

Having paid for his bracelet the bishop took it and was 
just about to step into his carriage when 
a policeman tapped him on the shoulder, 
and said, <*Hellow Jiml You're up 
to your old tricks again, are you? You 
just come along with me ; " and he took 
him back into the shop. 

The jeweler said there was some 
mistake, that the gentleman was an 
American bishop, that he had bought a 
bracelet, and paid for it with an excellent 

**Just let me look at the note, will 
you? "said the policeman. He looked 
at it, and said, ** yes, it's just as I thought. 
This note is one of a particularly clever 
batch of forgeries which are very diffi- 
cult to detect, and the man is no more a bishop than you are. 
We will go off to the police station at once. I will take the 
note and go on with the prisoner in advance, and you must 
send your salesman to me and meet us and bear witness.** 
So the policeman took the bishop and the bracelet and the 
note, but when the jeweler's man reached the police station 
they had not arrived, and they have never been heard of 
since I 

Ki? \C|> 

Warden to new arrival, who happens to be enjoying the 
name of Moses Ikenstein : 

** Well, Mr. Ikenstein, as this is your first visit it is our 
rule to always allow prisoners to select their own workshop, 
and if you will tell me what your trade or profession is will 
put you in that branch of employment." 

Ikenstein: **Is that so? Well, I am a traveling sales- 




' OW does he do it ? That is the usual ques- 
tion I hear asked about my work in the theater. 
No, dear reader, it is not my purpose to tell 
,you how I open locks, how I escape from a 
prison cell into which I have been locked, hav- 
ing previously been stripped naked and man- 
acled with heavy irons. I do not intend to 
tell you in this book how I escape from the trunk or the 
tightly corded and nailed-up box in which I have been con- 
fined, or how I unlock any regulation handcuff that can be 
produced — not yet. 

Some day I may tell all this, and then you will know. 
At present, I prefer that all who see me should draw their 
own conclusions. But exactly how I accomplish these 
things I shall still leave you to guess, gentle reader. I 
should not want you to go into the show business. It's a 
hard life, *• so they say." 

**Have you ever been stuck at it?" I think I hear you 
ask. Not yet. I have had some pretty close calls, but 
have always pulled through somehow. The nearest I ever 
came to giving in was during my engagement at Black- 
bourne, England. There I offered a prize to the man who 
could fasten me in such a way that I could not escape. 
One man accepted my challenge. He was an instructor in 
athletics, and was out for blood. He evidently looked upon 
my challenge as a personal affront to him. At any rate, he 
started in to shackle me. 

He first handcuffed my hands in front, then locked elbow 


Houdini 93 

irons, the chain of which went behind my back. Then he 
handcuffed my legs, and after this bent me backward and 
chained my back and feet together. I had to kneel down. 
Every chain and handcuff was fitted to the limit. I started 
in, but at the end of an hour I suffered so under the strain 
that I asked to be let out. My back was aching, my circu- 
lation was stopped in my wrists, and my arms became 
paralyzed. My opponent's only reply was, ** This is a bet. 
Cry quits or keep on." 

The Music Hall where I was playing was packed, and 
while watching me became fairly wild. I kept on, but 
I was only about half conscious. Every joint in my body 
was aching, and I had but little use of my arms. I asked as 
a favor that he free my hands long enough for the circular 
tion to start again, but he only laughed and exclaimed, *« This 
is no love affair, this is a contest. Say you are defeated and 
ru release you." 

I gritted my teeth and went at it once more. For two 
hours and a half I exerted myself, fighting for my professional 
good name. In the meanwhile, the audience was cheering 
itself hoarse. Some cried *« Give it up," and others, 
<« Keep on, you'll do it." I don't believe any such scene was 
ever acted in a theater. The house was crazy with excite- 
ment, and I was covered with blood brought on by my 
exertion to release myself and chaffing irons. But I did it. 
I got free of every chain and handcuff. Then they had to 
carry me off the stage, and I suffered from the effects for 
months afterwards. 

As for the prison cell, I have never been locked in one 
I could not open. I have had the honor of making my 
escape from securely locked cells in jails, prisons, and police 
stations in almost every large city in the world, and under 
the most rigid conditions. The chiefs of police, the 
wardens, the jailers, the detectives, and citizens who have 
been present at these tests know that they are real and 
actual. Perhaps the most historic American feat that gained 
for me the most notoriety was my escape January, 1906, 

94 The Right Way to Do Wrong -* 

from Cell 2, Murderers' Row, in the United States Jail at 
Washington, D. C. ; from the very cell in which Guiteau, 
the assassin of President Garfield, was confined until he was 
led forth to be hanged. Since my return from abroad, 
October, 1905, 1 have escaped after being locked up in a nude | 

state from cells in New York City, Brooklyn, Detroit, 
Rochester, Buffalo, Washington, Baltimore, Philadelphia, ^ 

Providence, and City Tombs in Boston and Lowell. In all |, 

cases I submitted to a close search, being stark naked and \' 

heavily manacled into the cell, which was also thoroughly ^3 



I am an American by birth, born in Appleton, Wis., 
U. S. A., on April 6, 1873. To my lot has fallen more /^ 

experiences, more strange adventures, more ups^ and downs, y 

in my thirty-three years of life than to most men. 

When about nine years of age my mother, to whom I am r^'^ 

greatly attached, apprenticed me to a mechanic to learn that ^^M 

trade ; but, after an uneventful term with the tools of the trade, 
I resolved to see the world with my own eager eyes. • So I 
ran away from home, and in this way made an early 
acquaintance with the corrugated side of life. 

I joined a small circus, and soon learned to conduct the 
Punch and Judy show, to do a ventriloquial act, and to play 
town clown on the bars — ** gol darn it." I also doubled in 
brass — that is, I beat the cymbals. I here gained the 
experiences that possibly ripened me into the world's Hand- 
cuff King and Prison Breaker — a title which I have justly 

But there was a time when I was not recognized as I am j 

now. Those were the days of small things. That was in ^ 

the middle West. After that, London and an engagement at *\ 

the Alhambra. After that, everywhere on the continent and I 

all over America. I have not yet been to Australia. I do 
not wish to be so far away from my mother. 

While touring Germany I brought suit against the police 

' -^ 



95 ♦ 

and a newspaper because they said 
my act was not genuine. I won the 
case — to have lost it would have 
meant ruin. 

Again, in Russia, I was bound 
by the officials of the spy police 
and locked in a Siberian transport 
cell. Had I failed to escape-, I 
would have been compelled to jour- 
ney to Siberia, as the key that locks 
these cells does not open them. The 
governor-general in Siberia has the 
only key to open them. I was out 
in twenty minutes. 

If there were more room in this 
book I would like to tell you of 
the many places in which I have 
played, both in America and 
Europe. I have many certificates 
from police officials. I was almost 
too busy to write this book, although 
I have been collecting the material 
for a long time. But now I am 
pleased it is written, and trust it may please you. I be- 
lieve that the reading of this book will so familiarize the 
public with the methods of the criminal classes that it will 
enable law-abiding citizens to protect themselves from the 
snares of the evil-doer. 

I hope it will warn you away from crime and all evil- 
doing. It may tell the ** Right Way to Do Wrong," but, as 
I said in the beginning, all I have to say is ** Don't." 

Medal illustrated is the result of my winning the contest 
from the H. Siegel Company, expert packers. And Mr. B. F. 
Keith, by the way^ also presented me with a most magnificent 
and costly Tiffany timepiece during -my engagement in 

Sincerely yours, 




CERTAIN fascination without doubt lingers 
about crime and the methods of criminals. 
Much of this fascination, and, consequently, 
much of the temptation to do wrong, arises 
from ignorance of the subject — ignorance of 
the mean, sordid life and the disgrace and 
.punishment which are the certain result of a 
career of crime. " ' ' ' 

The wayward youth sees only the advantage to be gained 
by unlawful acts. He does not see the years of ignominy, 
the furtive hiding from. the law, the shame of not being able 
to look his fellow-man in the face — no, nor the inevitable 
arrest, conviction, and punishment which ends it all in ninety- 
nine cases out of every one hundred. 

In this book I have told of the methods of criminals, and 
held them up to your gaze, not as heroes, but as malefactors ; 
not as examples to be emulated, but as corruptions to be 
shunned, as you ^ would shun a plague. 

To the best of my belief , this book, if you read it rightly, 
is a sermon more powerful against wrong-doing than many 
that are preached from the pulpit. It is my hope and wish 
that it may carry, this warning into the hearts of thou- 
sands of young men. Then shall my labor not have been 

TTie boiTDwer must letum this item on or befoie 
the last date stamped below. If another user 
places a recall for this item, the borrower will 
be notified of the need for an earlier return- 

Non-receipt of overdue notices does not exempt 
the borrower from overdue fines. 

Harvard College Wideaer Library 
Cambridge, MA 02138 617-495-2413